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March 21, 2011
Communication Prescriptions for Doctors – and Us
 
We've been hearing for a long while that there aren't enough family practice or emergency room doctors. Everybody wants to be a specialist, medically speaking. That leaves existing general practitioners and emergency room physicians overworked, and that can have communication consequences. How often do other busy people you know – yourselves, maybe – find that relational consequences arise from being harried?

We have The Nashua Telegraph, in New Hampshire, to thank for this report on research done by the Center for Studying Health System Change that "matched 21 pairs of emergency room and primary care doctors working out of the same hospital."  Too much communication potential was avoided or left to chance. Physicians who sent patients to the emergency room didn't contact it themselves. And emergency room doctors typically didn't bother to contact the primary doctors to clarify information or discuss how best to treat their mutual patients.

"When the two doctors were able to connect on the phone," the study noted, "the result was often much more positive and often less complicated for the patient." In other words, communication counts.

There's more detail on the study in The Telegraph's report, but one of its key points comes toward the end: "...a lack of enough doctors trained and willing to work in either ER or family care, and the continued time constraints faced by those who are in those fields." In other words, busyness – however worthy the practitioners –  militates against effective communication. 

Try to resist that happening between you, your associates and your customers.

The report covered by The Telegraph was sponsored by the National Institute for Health Care Reform. It suggests that medical issues cut pretty deeply – like  how do we develop more general practice physicians? In PR settings, it might be: how do we slow down busy communicators who don't take time to communicate? 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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