The public benefit

Why what we do is for the public benefit

Almost all members of the public will be patients at some point in their lives or be carers of members of their family who are patients. The quality of the health care that they receive and the subsequent relief of sickness or prevention of illness will depend upon the effectiveness of the communication with their health givers. Effective healthcare communication between patients, relatives and healthcare practitioners has been demonstrated to affect the health of patients through improvements in patient satisfaction, recall, adherence, resolution of symptoms and disease outcome. Effective health care communication leads to more efficient, accurate and supportive medical care and improves the effectiveness of medical interactions and interventions. Effective health care communication not only leads to better care but to less expensive care with fewer unnecessary medical interventions and reduced inappropriate or futile treatments.

Over 30 years of health care communication research has demonstrated that there are many problems in health care communication between professionals and patients and that there are increasingly evidence-based solutions to these problems. These solutions can be taught and the learning from these solutions can be retained and utilised by practitioners in their everyday practice.

Healthcare communication will become an increasing imperative for patients and the public over the forthcoming years. As the population ages and multi-morbidity becomes increasingly common, patients will need to be actively involved in the management of their own illnesses. New ways of communicating between patients, relatives and health professionals will need to be developed to enable the patient to be fully involved in the decision-making processes about them