This action states

The health service organisation supports clinicians to communicate with patients, carers, families and consumers about health and health care so that:

  1. Information is provided in a way that meets the needs of patients, carers, families and consumers
  2. Information provided is easy to understand and use
  3. The clinical needs of patients are addressed while they are in the health service organisation
  4. Information needs for ongoing care are provided on discharge

Intent

Consumers receive the information they need to get the best health outcomes, and this information is easy to understand and act on.

Reflective questions

What processes are used to ensure that the information available for clinicians to give to patients meets the patients’ needs?

How are clinicians supported to meet the information needs of patients for ongoing care on discharge?

Key task

  • Set up processes to support clinicians to communicate effectively with consumers about their health and healthcare needs.

Strategies for improvement

Hospitals

Clear and open communication between consumers and clinicians is vital for the delivery of effective, efficient and ethical health care. It also facilitates good clinical decision-making, protects the legal rights of consumers to be informed and involved in decision-making, and assists when supported decision-making is required.

Processes to support clinicians to communicate effectively with patients and their carers about all aspects of their care involve obtaining informed consent, and determining a patient’s treatment preferences and goals of care. Use the strategies below to adapt current processes or adopt new processes for supporting communication between clinicians and consumers.

Set up an environment that supports open, clear and effective communication between clinicians and consumers

This may involve1, 2:

  • Engaging leadership and governing bodies to integrate the importance of health literacy and clear communication into the organisation’s operations, and align it with other organisational priorities, such as reducing health disparities
  • Assigning responsibility to an individual or group for actions to improve the health literacy environment
  • Auditing the health literacy environment (either in the annual audit program of the organisation or as a standalone audit)
  • Providing clinicians with training that highlights the importance of health literacy
  • Implementing a plain-language policy that makes written information easier to understand.

Provide access to appropriate consumer information resources and tools to support communications

Consumer information should be at a level that can be understood and used by diverse consumers. It may be appropriate to identify or develop both simpler and more complex information resources, so that clinicians have access to the most appropriate information for an individual patient.

Information resources and tools that clinicians can use to support their communications may include:

  • Written information (for example, brochures, fact sheets, posters, online material); if developed locally, consumers should be involved in developing these resources (Action 2.9)
  • Visual diagrams and decision aids (for example, the Commission’s patient decision aids)
  • Cue cards or symbols to support communication with people who do not understand English (for example, Eastern Health’s Cue Cards in community languages).

Health service organisations are responsible for ensuring that the information provided to patients is current.

Educate consumers about their important role in supporting effective communication

Develop information resources about communication processes and provide these to patients receiving or preparing to receive care. Resources may include brochures, fact sheets, newsletters, posters, online resources and information broadcast on internal media communication channels in the service.

Include information about:

  • The important role that patients and carers play in providing information to the healthcare team
  • When agreed communication processes occur (times, locations)
  • Which clinicians take part in these processes
  • Alternative methods for communicating concerns to the healthcare team
  • Ways of providing feedback on these communication processes.

Involve patients and carers in developing information and resources about communication processes (Action 2.9).

Monitor and assess communication

Strategies may include:

  • Auditing healthcare records to assess the information provided to patients and carers
  • Providing a mechanism for patients to give feedback about the communication and information they receive during an episode of care
  • Seeking feedback on communication and information resources from consumers who use the services (for example, including questions about medicines information in patient experience surveys).

Day Procedure Services

Clear and open communication between consumers and clinicians is vital for the delivery of effective, efficient and ethical health care. It also facilitates good clinical decision-making, protects the legal rights of consumers to be informed and involved in decision-making, and assists when supported decision-making is required.

Processes to support clinicians to communicate effectively with patients and their carers about all aspects of their care involve obtaining informed consent, and determining a patient’s treatment preferences and goals of care. Use the strategies below to adapt current systems or adopt new systems for supporting communication between clinicians and consumers.

Set up an environment that supports open, clear and effective communication between clinicians and consumers

This may involve1, 2:

  • Auditing the health literacy environment (either in the annual audit program of the organisation or as a standalone audit)
  • Providing clinicians with training that highlights the importance of health literacy
  • Implementing a plain-language policy that makes written information easier to understand.

Provide access to appropriate consumer information resources and tools to support communications

Consumer information should be at a level that can be understood and used by diverse consumers. It may be appropriate to identify or develop both simpler and more complex information resources, so that clinicians have access to the most appropriate information for an individual patient.

Information resources and tools that clinicians can use to support their communications may include:

  • Written information (for example, brochures, fact sheets, posters, online material); if developed locally, consumers should be involved in developing these resources (Action 2.9)
  • Visual diagrams and decision aids (for example, the Commission’s patient decision aids)
  • Cue cards or symbols to support communication with people who do not understand English (for example, Eastern Health’s Cue cards in community languages).

Health service organisations are responsible for ensuring that the information provided to patients is current.

Monitor and assess communication

Strategies may include:

  • Providing a mechanism for patients to give feedback about the communication and information they receive during an episode of care
  • Seeking feedback on communication and information resources from consumers who use the services (for example, including questions about medicines information in patient experience surveys).

Examples of evidence

Select only examples currently in use:

  • Observation that the workforce, patients and carers have access to information about the health service organisation and the services it provides
  • Audit results of healthcare records that reflect an assessment of need, and the information and support provided before, during and after an episode of care
  • A register of interpreter and other advocacy and support services available to the workforce, patients and carers
  • Examples of information materials provided to patients and carers that are in plain language, and available in different languages and formats
  • Results of patient and carer experience surveys regarding the information provided
  • Audit of the proportion of patients receiving a discharge summary
  • Feedback from patients and carers about the information communicated to them in the health service organisation and on discharge.

MPS & Small Hospitals

Providing clinicians with access to training that highlights the importance of health literacy can improve communication with consumers.

The effectiveness of clinicians’ communication can be monitored and assessed by:

  • Providing a mechanism for patients to give feedback about the communication and information they receive during an episode of care
  • Seeking feedback on communication and information resources from consumers who use the services (for example, including questions about medicines information in patient experience surveys).

Hospitals

Clear and open communication between consumers and clinicians is vital for the delivery of effective, efficient and ethical health care. It also facilitates good clinical decision-making, protects the legal rights of consumers to be informed and involved in decision-making, and assists when supported decision-making is required.

Processes to support clinicians to communicate effectively with patients and their carers about all aspects of their care involve obtaining informed consent, and determining a patient’s treatment preferences and goals of care. Use the strategies below to adapt current processes or adopt new processes for supporting communication between clinicians and consumers.

Set up an environment that supports open, clear and effective communication between clinicians and consumers

This may involve1, 2:

  • Engaging leadership and governing bodies to integrate the importance of health literacy and clear communication into the organisation’s operations, and align it with other organisational priorities, such as reducing health disparities
  • Assigning responsibility to an individual or group for actions to improve the health literacy environment
  • Auditing the health literacy environment (either in the annual audit program of the organisation or as a standalone audit)
  • Providing clinicians with training that highlights the importance of health literacy
  • Implementing a plain-language policy that makes written information easier to understand.

Provide access to appropriate consumer information resources and tools to support communications

Consumer information should be at a level that can be understood and used by diverse consumers. It may be appropriate to identify or develop both simpler and more complex information resources, so that clinicians have access to the most appropriate information for an individual patient.

Information resources and tools that clinicians can use to support their communications may include:

  • Written information (for example, brochures, fact sheets, posters, online material); if developed locally, consumers should be involved in developing these resources (Action 2.9)
  • Visual diagrams and decision aids (for example, the Commission’s patient decision aids)
  • Cue cards or symbols to support communication with people who do not understand English (for example, Eastern Health’s Cue Cards in community languages).

Health service organisations are responsible for ensuring that the information provided to patients is current.

Educate consumers about their important role in supporting effective communication

Develop information resources about communication processes and provide these to patients receiving or preparing to receive care. Resources may include brochures, fact sheets, newsletters, posters, online resources and information broadcast on internal media communication channels in the service.

Include information about:

  • The important role that patients and carers play in providing information to the healthcare team
  • When agreed communication processes occur (times, locations)
  • Which clinicians take part in these processes
  • Alternative methods for communicating concerns to the healthcare team
  • Ways of providing feedback on these communication processes.

Involve patients and carers in developing information and resources about communication processes (Action 2.9).

Monitor and assess communication

Strategies may include:

  • Auditing healthcare records to assess the information provided to patients and carers
  • Providing a mechanism for patients to give feedback about the communication and information they receive during an episode of care
  • Seeking feedback on communication and information resources from consumers who use the services (for example, including questions about medicines information in patient experience surveys).

Day Procedure Services

Clear and open communication between consumers and clinicians is vital for the delivery of effective, efficient and ethical health care. It also facilitates good clinical decision-making, protects the legal rights of consumers to be informed and involved in decision-making, and assists when supported decision-making is required.

Processes to support clinicians to communicate effectively with patients and their carers about all aspects of their care involve obtaining informed consent, and determining a patient’s treatment preferences and goals of care. Use the strategies below to adapt current systems or adopt new systems for supporting communication between clinicians and consumers.

Set up an environment that supports open, clear and effective communication between clinicians and consumers

This may involve1, 2:

  • Auditing the health literacy environment (either in the annual audit program of the organisation or as a standalone audit)
  • Providing clinicians with training that highlights the importance of health literacy
  • Implementing a plain-language policy that makes written information easier to understand.

Provide access to appropriate consumer information resources and tools to support communications

Consumer information should be at a level that can be understood and used by diverse consumers. It may be appropriate to identify or develop both simpler and more complex information resources, so that clinicians have access to the most appropriate information for an individual patient.

Information resources and tools that clinicians can use to support their communications may include:

  • Written information (for example, brochures, fact sheets, posters, online material); if developed locally, consumers should be involved in developing these resources (Action 2.9)
  • Visual diagrams and decision aids (for example, the Commission’s patient decision aids)
  • Cue cards or symbols to support communication with people who do not understand English (for example, Eastern Health’s Cue cards in community languages).

Health service organisations are responsible for ensuring that the information provided to patients is current.

Monitor and assess communication

Strategies may include:

  • Providing a mechanism for patients to give feedback about the communication and information they receive during an episode of care
  • Seeking feedback on communication and information resources from consumers who use the services (for example, including questions about medicines information in patient experience surveys).

Examples of evidence

Select only examples currently in use:

  • Observation that the workforce, patients and carers have access to information about the health service organisation and the services it provides
  • Audit results of healthcare records that reflect an assessment of need, and the information and support provided before, during and after an episode of care
  • A register of interpreter and other advocacy and support services available to the workforce, patients and carers
  • Examples of information materials provided to patients and carers that are in plain language, and available in different languages and formats
  • Results of patient and carer experience surveys regarding the information provided
  • Audit of the proportion of patients receiving a discharge summary
  • Feedback from patients and carers about the information communicated to them in the health service organisation and on discharge.

MPS & Small Hospitals

Providing clinicians with access to training that highlights the importance of health literacy can improve communication with consumers.

The effectiveness of clinicians’ communication can be monitored and assessed by:

  • Providing a mechanism for patients to give feedback about the communication and information they receive during an episode of care
  • Seeking feedback on communication and information resources from consumers who use the services (for example, including questions about medicines information in patient experience surveys).

References

  1. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. Health literacy: taking action to improve safety and quality. Sydney: ACSQHC; 2014.
  2. Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health. Training programs to improve health outcomes for migrants and refugees. Melbourne: CEH; 2016 [cited 2016 Mar 15].