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Improving Patient/ Practitioner Communications

Research & Presentations

Improving Patient/Practitioner Communications

Clinician studying the benefits of positive communications is seeking to partner with industry professionals to develop best practices for O&P

By Andrea Sherwood, MPO, CPO

Passion for patient outcomes and

quality care is what drew me to the research topic of good patient/practitioner communications. My previous career in community relations/public relations for a Fortune 500 company taught me the significant value of good communication. So, my initial intent as an orthotics and prosthetics student was to learn about best practices for clinical communication in orthotics and prosthetics.

However, much to my surprise, I was able to find only one article in the literature regarding communication in O&P. The lack of publications on this topic suggested that we as practitioners have room for improvement when it comes to communicating with our patients. It also highlighted the need for a broader literature review wherein I might learn more about the benefits to practitioners of using good clinical communication that might be applied to orthotic and prosthetic patient encounters.

Hence, I began a review focusing on two specific aims. First, given the lack of literature specific to orthotics and prosthetics, I set out to identify the benefits

experienced by medical providers more broadly from using good patient/practitioner communication. Second, I sought to consider which of these benefits might apply in the context of an orthotic/prosthetic patient encounter.

The review, published in the January issue of the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics (JPO), and co-authored by myself, John Brinkmann, MA, CPO, LPO, FAAOP, and Stefania Fatone, PhD, BPO(Hons), identified 17 benefits to medical providers who use good patient/practitioner communication. We were then able to categorize these benefits into five beneficial themes that we believe would accrue to orthotists and prosthetists who engage in good patient/ practitioner communication. The beneficial themes included the following: 1. Reducing the risk of litigation 2. Efficient and effective patient appointments 3. Improved patient outcomes 4. Improved patient satisfaction and increased referrals

5. Improved job satisfaction for practitioners.

These benefits could be yours if you improve your clinical communication with patients. So, how do you improve your communication?

Determining how to improve clinical communication is the next necessary step. I am looking to partner with industry professionals across multiple

disciplines to find methods of analyzing practitioner communication, learn techniques to teach good communication skills, and develop best practices for the orthotics and prosthetics profession. Clinical communication is very different from communication between family and friends; therefore, it is important to actively develop these skills, much like we hone our technical skills. As orthotists and prosthetists, our technical skills blend science and art to achieve successful outcomes for our patients. Clinical communication skills also weave together the science and art of communication.

Similar to the development of our technical skills, developing good communication skills requires practice, finesse, and motivation. Are you motivated to better understand the benefits of good patient/practitioner communication? To learn more, please read the full literature review, “Review of Benefits to Practitioners of Using Good Patient/Practitioner Communication,” published in the January issue of JPO, and contact me at andrea567@gmail.com if you have ideas to share on this topic.

Andrea Sherwood, MPO, CPO, is currently in the development stages of creating a business to enhance communication with pediatric patients in orthotics and prosthetics. Her research is published in the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics. She has presented at the National AAOP Scientific Symposium, AAOP Midwest Chapter Meeting, Northwestern University Prosthetic Orthotic Program, and other venues.

12 O&P News | February 2018

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