Most of the week as well as today has focused on methods to improve some aspect of communication. The breakdown of communication reaches beyond just the interdisciplinary team, hospital staff to administration, and physician to patient though. It applies to the messages healthcare as an industry communicates to the general public too. As any good PSA will tell you, knowledge is power, and if we continue to strive for a patient-centered/empowered industry, we should seek to educate. Those responsible for the education – hint, hint: us – tend to fall short on delivering a palatable message. Instead, the frontlines of patient education are social networks and blogs. More concerning, the majority of those sources obtain their information from other media outlets.
Now, in theory that doesn’t sound like an alarming statement. The media reports on most issues, health being no exception. It is how the information is being communicated and what conclusions that leads the public – your patients – to that poses the problem. Case in point, a radio broadcast this past May discussed how the media inaccurately reports medical and scientific findings on a regular basis. Consensus suggested this practice continues as little regulation and training exists on (1) how to interpret scientific articles and (2) how to report those findings in a manner that will not lead the public to false assumptions about the research claims. Yet, if whiplash could result from the rate at which the press can turn the same drug that cures an ail into the root cause of another disorder, we’d all wear neck braces. Some champions of the cause have sought to create a more skeptical public. Others have criticized the press for their behavior. But perhaps we have been missing the mark. Why don’t we just talk to the public? It is a recipe for mutually beneficial outcomes.
Communication, whether to an individual or the whole of a nation, is a skill that needs improvement in the medical and scientific community. The public is hungry for knowledge but needs the information communicated in a succinct manner in a common language. Techniques found in 60-Second Science and Pecha Kucha support this notion and challenge us to improve. Capitalizing on the use of social media – just as we are here and on Twitter – is a great start. Let’s reach beyond just our general network of health professionals and interest groups and attempt to educate. We are the best source of information, so let’s cut out the middle man and speak for ourselves. Whether blog, vlog, email, tweet, instagram, or podcast – let’s challenge ourselves to improve our communication on a universal level.