We tend to forget how important clear communication is. Mistakes with patient safety occur from break downs in communication. Personal relationships are ruined from misunderstandings. Unhappy customers come out of lack of communication between staff and client. Practice tension occurs when little words are being said between the team. Keep lines of communication open by implementing policies to explain clear expectation of staff, patients, and rules within practice.
First visit with client is a great time to discuss expectations of practice. How can client communicate with you? What is best number to call during office hours versus weekends? When is email versus a phone call the best? When clear communication and expectation are made, there is less chance for unhappiness with care when patient knows what to expect out of you.
Be very clear that you are only one person and on call 24/7. You may not instantly answer the phone when they call. We are all human and technology doesn’t always work or have service. For example, “Emails will be answered by 72hrs. Phone calls to office will be called back by 48hrs. Call to my cell phone will be returned within 20min. If something is urgent, please call two times in a row. If I am with a laboring women or family matter, will call back as soon as possible.” Always give a back up midwife’s phone number if you are unavailable. If something is truly an emergency, should be calling 9-1-1. Options for communication help improve satisfaction.
Clear communication channels are just as important for your staff. If it is your day off and receptionist gets a phone call from patient with medical concern, how will it be handled? Will receptionist tell client to call midwife on her cell phone, have Medical Assistant in office take call, or having on call midwife get the message? Those are all important discussions to clarify with new staff and at staff meetings. It is helpful to have administration policies discussing communication steps to follow.
Having weekly group emails about updates, new staff, deliveries, positive and negative feedback, and goals to work on in practice is helpful to keep communication open and informal. Monthly on site meetings create a more personalized sense to the communication versus email. Sometimes the nonverbal are lost when words are only typed versus an actual dialogue of brainstorming occurs.
Bi-annual work “retreats” for team are great bonding exercises. It will keep people strong together when rocky bumps are happening with practice transitions. Doing consistent, routine staff evaluations will allow for positive growth opportunities to occur. If meetings and evaluations only happen when things are going “wrong,” negative correlation gets put with opportunities for communication are happening. We want praise and learning from mistakes just as much as day to day tasks being accomplished in the office. Remember, we all went into this profession to help people. Helping people means clear communication about thoughts, concerns, ideas, and improvement strategies. Short and long term goals for midwifery business are accomplished with clear communication on all levels.