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Six ways health care leaders can sharpen communication skills

Todays dynamic health care landscape relies on highly educated and motivated leaders with strong managerial expertise to oversee large health care opera...

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|Jul 7|magazine11 min read

Today’s dynamic health care landscape relies on highly educated and motivated leaders with strong managerial expertise to oversee large health care operations, and their success is determined by how well they clearly communicate with patients, staff, providers, business partners, insurance companies, and regulators.

American Sentinel University, an innovative, accredited provider of health care management degree programs, offers tips to today’s health care leaders to sharpen their communications skills.

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“Without communication, there is no leadership, and without strong leadership, there can be no success in our current health care landscape,” says Blair Smith, Ph.D., dean, informatics-management-technology (IMT) at American Sentinel University. “Health care professionals have a good command of communication skills, but the breakdown in communications can occur anywhere in the care continuum, so it’s important that health care leaders continually work at polishing their skills in this area to ensure their operation’s continued success.”

Dr. Smith offers the following practical steps health care leaders can take to improve the quality of their communications.

1. Choose your words carefully.

“The more clearly and succinctly you say something, the more powerfully you communicate,” says Dr. Smith. He recommends avoiding clichés, slogans, and buzzwords.

2. Be clear and specific.

When explaining your vision, Dr. Smith says it’s important to be clear on exactly what your message is and what it means for the organization and the individuals who work there. Use only the words necessary to get your meaning across.

3. Never trade clarity for inspiration.

Dr. Smith says that it’s not important for people to display waves of emotion from their choice of words, nor that they worry about being charismatic. Focus on the mission so that people will understand and take part in it.

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4. Don’t over-specify.

Nothing will go as we think it might or wish it would, so leave enough room when communicating ideas that people can react as necessary to changing conditions.

5. Note what is non-negotiable.

Find the core principles of the message (or organization) and be sure people understand their importance. Then they will help create systems to support those principles.

6. Stretch specifications and goals can improve innovation.

When trying to move beyond what the organization has done before, use “stretch specifications,” which are goals or definitions that seem impossible. They can help people realize that business as usual is no longer going to work and that they need new approaches.

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Dr. Smith says that with practice, effective leadership skills can become easy for today’s health care leaders to implement and also become beneficial as part of their routine.

“Most importantly, strong communication skills build trust, ease tensions (with patients, staff and providers), increase positive patient outcomes and help boost professional satisfaction.”

American Sentinel University delivers accredited online degree programs in nursing (BSN, MSN, and DNP) and health care management (MBA Healthcare, MS in information systems management, and MS in business intelligence and analytics).

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