Communicate with cultural sensitivity to connect with patients

Health care providers must break through their own hidden biases to connect with patients and enhance the quality of care, writes Dr. William Maples in Hospitals & Health Networks®, an AHA Media publication.

Dr. William Maples, who leads The Institute for Healthcare Excellence and serves as PRC’s Chief Medical Officer, contributed a lead article to the December 11, 2017, edition of H&HN. In the column, Dr. Maples describes four strategies that can enable healthcare professionals to recognize and correct hidden biases in order to build meaningful, productive relationships with patients and their families — and within their own care teams.

He argues that increased diversity throughout the healthcare field is creating exceptional opportunities to customize patient-centered care by communicating with an awareness of and a sensitivity toward the cultural attributes that make all patients unique. Caregivers need to recognize markers beyond racial and ethnic diversity to fully understand patients’ health needs. Factors such as economic or immigration status, religious beliefs, decision-making styles, and healing traditions all impact how providers craft care plans that will be meaningful and effective.

This means that healthcare professionals must be able to identify any underlying personal biases that may affect “patient interactions, the overall provider-patient relationship, and, ultimately, clinical outcomes, safety and efficiency,”

Four strategies for breaking through biases and enhancing the quality of care

To deliver the best possible care and ensure the best possible outcomes, healthcare professionals must fully understand the nature of the country’s diverse population and how their own biases and assumptions can impact the care they deliver. Dr. Maples recommends adopting these strategies for building bridges with patients and their families:

  1. Concentrate on relationships
  2. Unearth biases and assumptions
  3. Practice inclusive communication techniques
  4. Partner with interpreters

“Actively seeking opportunities to practice and improve culturally sensitive communication will go a long way toward connecting with patients who experience the American healthcare system differently,” he emphasizes.

To learn more about Dr. Maples’ strategies for communicating with cultural sensitivity, read the article in Hospitals & Health Networks®.

Choose experience. Choose excellence. Choose IHE and PRC.

Communication skills connect with patients, improve care

“Communication” is more than a buzzword in the healthcare industry these days. Now, healthcare systems are applying effective communication skills to improve culture and continuously advance the patient experience and the quality of care they deliver.

No one recognizes that more than Chadi Ibrahaim, M.D., and hospitalist at Beaumont Hospital in Troy, Michigan.

“A couple of years ago, I thought ‘patient experience’ was a trend we needed to follow to improve service, but that it didn’t have much impact on the quality of patient care,” he says.

His thinking changed after he completed the Institute of Healthcare Excellence (IHE) Communication in Healthcare program. Beaumont Hospital, Troy, partnered with IHE when the 520-bed community hospital wanted to improve bedside communication and engage physicians and allied staff more deeply with patients and with one another. To do that, leadership focused on creating a culture that recognizes and leverages the value of effective communication.

Physician ownership is essential to improving communication, and Dr. Ibrahim embraced IHE’s Communication in Healthcare as the right fit for Beaumont. “Patients want us to help them, but clearly we had not always addressed their concerns. Practicing the principles we learned through the Communication in Healthcare curriculum has enabled us to connect in ways that inspire trust, which positively impacts patients’ recovery,” he notes.

Dr. Ibrahim feels that he is a better doctor after putting his training into practice. “Before doing this communication work, I knew practicing medicine was important, but it felt like something was missing. Now, there’s no question about it. Patients consistently tell me, ‘Wow, thank you. No one has ever listened to me that way.’”

Find out more about the steps Beaumont Hospital, Troy, has taken to transform its culture by downloading our complete case study, which explores how focused communication can transform hospital culture. If you would like to learn more about how IHE can help your organization develop and sustain a culture of excellence, please contact us.

Choose experience. Choose excellence. Choose IHE and PRC.

Join us October 6, 2017 in Denver for the IHE Regional Summit

The Regional Summit is fast approaching! If you would like to lead your organization toward impactful initiatives that improve communication, enrich the patient and caregiver experience, and inspire highly reliable teams, this summit is for you!

Hospitals and health systems can no longer focus solely on stripping out waste and reducing costs. A growing body of evidence shows that patient experience drives more than satisfaction: the human experience of care also adds value by enhancing quality and improving outcomes.

Clear, effective and relationship-centered communication is critical to creating a culture of excellence built on trust, teamwork, competence and compassion. A culture of excellence not only enables patient-centered care, it also maximizes the value of care patients and family receive and helps reconnect caregivers with their purpose in medicine.

During this session, we will focus on the following objectives:

1. Understanding the importance of effective caregiver communication in creating a culture of excellence for patients and caregivers alike

2. Understanding and practicing the art of reflective listening and leveraging its benefits in clinical and non-clinical encounters

3. Demonstrating communication techniques useful in building patient- and team-based relationships

4. Understanding and practicing the skills required to effectively and efficiently gather accurate information and jointly set an agenda

5. Understanding and practicing the skills of appreciation/gratitude as a means of restoring joy and resiliency to the practice of medicine

6. Understanding and practicing mindfulness/presence and its application in the healthcare setting

Event Details

Date: Friday, October 6, 2017
Location: Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver Conference Center
Time: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Registration Rate: $150
Registration Includes: Breakfast, lunch and program materials

RELATIONS™ for Healthcare Transformation 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Additional Courses Available (must attend the 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. session first): Common questions and quagmires about experience data from 12:15 – 12:45pm.
Mindfulness & Gratitude from 1-2 p.m., Managing Energy, Not Time from 2-3 p.m. and Empathy-Centered Design from 3-5 p.m.

RSVP by September 30, 2017, to Kimmylea Konsel at or Register Now!

Seating is limited to 30 attendees, so reserve your spot today! 

Accommodations are available for overnight guests. The reduced hotel rate is $139 per night and is available through September 30, 2017.

Attendees are responsible for their own travel and hotel arrangements.

We look forward to seeing you in Denver!