Good communication is central to all aspects of a clinician’s role and is the cornerstone of a chiropractor’s interaction with their patients.
From the start of a patient’s journey when they are searching for information about chiropractic treatment and throughout their ongoing care, clear and effective communication is critical to the patient experience and, importantly, to achieving good patient outcomes.
Failing to communicate effectively can have significant consequences, including an erosion of public confidence and trust, can impact on patient safety and can damage the reputation of the chiropractic profession.
Poor and misleading communication, across digital channels and in-person, is a recurring theme across the GCC’s Fitness to Practise (FtP) investigations. It is therefore timely for registrants to self-reflect on their communication skills and competencies and take steps to address any shortcomings in their skillset.
Developing effective communication skills
The Royal College of Chiropractors recently launched a new CPD webinar series on communication which focuses on the many different facets of communications from ethical marketing, interprofessional communication, motivational interviewing and communicating with patients.
This new CPD initiative also coincides with recent work by the GCC to support effective communications through the development of toolkits for registrants on advertising, websites and social media.
One of the first sessions of the webinar series on communication is focused on informed consent. The issue of consent features regularly in FtP hearings and specifically the failure of health professionals to set out the objectives, benefits and risks of interventions and to outline the alternative treatments and what might happen to the patient without an intervention.
It is important that chiropractors can be confident that each of these elements have been communicated and addressed as part of obtaining consent. When treating a patient, it is the duty of the chiropractor to set out the nature of the care.
As part of this process, chiropractors must ensure that the language used is balanced, appropriate and respectful so the patient can make a decision that is completely voluntary.
Another important facet of communication for registrants, which features in the webinar series, is interprofessional communication. From working as part of a multi-disciplinary team to making a patient referral to another clinician, successful collaboration requires good communication in order to deliver improved patient outcomes and quality of care.
In addition, by communicating effectively with other health professionals, chiropractors can demonstrate their knowledge and expertise, thus helping to build confidence in the chiropractic profession.
There are other tools available to support registrants with interprofessional communication. For example, when making a patient referral some chiropractors may find it helpful to include the Royal College of Chiropractors’ Quality Standards – which are evidence-based and professionally presented – to reinforce the profession’s approach to excellent patient care.
Chiropractic Practice Standards
The Royal College of Chiropractors’ Chiropractic Practice Standards are also useful evidence-based documents that are designed to help chiropractors meet their obligations in the provision of patient care and/or the governance of their services.
Our first Chiropractic Practice Standard is concerned with patient communication and focuses on those areas of chiropractic practice where effective communication is key and highlights the principles and standards that represent best practice in practitioner: patient communication in a chiropractic care setting.
We will be launching and discussing the Clinical Practice Standard for Communication as part of the CPD programme early in 2022.
The importance of communicating properly and effectively with patients, colleagues and other healthcare professionals should not be underestimated. The continued development of communication skills and competencies will help to ensure the delivery of an enhanced patient experience and excellent patient care.
To learn more about the RCC’s CPD programme visit www.rcc-uk.org