The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a community of federal employees dedicated to the idea that citizens deserve clear communication from government. Healthcare is complicated, and misunderstandings can lead to poor health outcomes and increased medical costs. Clear communication leads to accurate diagnoses and treatment decisions.
Communication. It’s the foundation of all human relationships. According to Wikipedia, it’s usually defined as the transmission of information.
Clear communication occurs when the receiver has understood the information, not when the sender has transmitted the message. If a patient doesn’t grasp the intended meaning, no communication has actually occurred.
“The Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) is a community of federal employees dedicated to the idea that citizens deserve clear communication from government. Plain language (also called plain writing or plain English) is communication your audience can understand the first time they read or hear it.”
Barriers to effective communication can distort information. This may result in failed communication and cause unwanted effects. Good communication helps to spread knowledge and information.
Why is communication so important in healthcare? Effective communication in healthcare can make a life-or-death difference. Clear communication between patient and provider leads to accurate diagnoses and treatment decisions.
Physicians often do not realize they are using terminology that can be easily misinterpreted by non-physicians. When physicians communicate with patients using medical terms, patients can easily misunderstand the intended meaning. For example, in healthcare, “negative” often means something good, whereas “positive” means something bad.
Language is a terrific communications medium, and the skillful use of plain language can be a powerful tool to help both patients and physicians alike.
Healthcare is complicated, and misunderstandings can lead to poor health outcomes and increased medical costs. Health literacy knowledge is a key component when delivering healthcare services for an increasingly diverse patient population. Health literacy paves the way for health equity.
Stay tuned for part two where we discuss the importance of health literacy.