Effective communication

1. Introduction - The importance of communication

Now more than ever, it is clear that communication is an essential part of our life. Through communication we are able to connect with others, share our experiences, thoughts, wants and needs, as well as build relationships and memories that we cherish dearly. In healthcare, effective communication is vital as it not only contributes to best and safe healthcare practices, but it also enhances every individual’s personal experience.

By definition, communication refers to a process by which a sender transmits a message through an appropriate channel, and this is received by the intended receiver who is ready and receptive to accept the message, as subsequently demonstrated through another message or some form of feedback. Communication is the process by which information, meanings and feelings are imparted, interchanged, or transmitted by people through the exchange of verbal and non-verbal messages. Communication is transactional, with both parties involved sending and receiving messages at the same time; it is said that it is impossible not to communicate. Therefore it is important to be aware that verbal and non-verbal communication are both methods by which information, meanings and feelings are shared rather than just emphasis being placed on verbal interactions.

In the context of Covid-19 positive/suspected patients requiring imaging, the primary message that all radiographers / radiological technologists should aim to convey is one of reassurance. Patients are likely to be fearful, anxious, isolated and sad and therefore they instantly need to be reassured that they are not alone. Indeed, it has been reported that the first few seconds of any interaction are enough to make a first impression. Therefore, while it is totally understandable that radiographers / radiological technologists may also be anxious or fearful when they need to image Covid-19 positive/suspected patients, it is important that radiographers / radiological technologists show patients that they are going to be there for them, that they truly care. Such an approach exhibits a good first impression and paves way for a positive start for the subsequent radiographer-patient interaction.