The Importance of Interprofessional Communication

Hi readers!

I apologize about our lack of posts — it’s about time for midterms so we have been very busy as of late.

Today, I want to bring up the importance of inter-professional communication. As pharmacists, about 50% of the people we must communicate with on a daily basis are other health care professionals: dentists, nurse practitioners, doctors, physician assistants, even other pharmacists. Unfortunately, for the majority of pharmacists, this is a part of the daily grind that we dread. Why is that? Is it because we don’t want to step on the toes of another health care professional? Do we not want to confront another professional when we think that the patient’s best interest is not at hand? Do we really want to call another office (for the hundredth time) to clarify what the chicken scratch on the script is supposed to say?

Maybe this part of the job really isn’t that hard, maybe pharmacists and other health professionals just simply aren’t good at this aspect of their work. We communicate to patients all day long. Even the toughest of patients, we struggle through the unyielding communication barriers, just to get the smallest point across. When it comes to talking to a health professional with whom we share a common patient, a common wellness goal, it all changes. These other health care professionals may never actually materialize as a real person to us; the only interaction we have with them is over the telephone or electronically. We are forced to develop relationships – cordial, professional relationships – based on a patient which we both have had very brief encounters with. Since these health care relationships are so delicately formed by only technological machines – our telephones and computers – they can collapse just as fast as they were built.

Today, when all aspects of health care are beginning to overlap, it is of the utmost importance to develop strong relationships with the health care professionals around you. We have to keep in mind that even though we are all always on the patient’s side, we are also on each other’s side; we deal with the same difficult patients, the same aggravating insurance companies, and the same frustration that comes with a one-sided profession.

Take the time and get to know the health care professionals in your area, even if it’s just by phone. Don’t sever relationships because you are having a bad day; this is a lasting impression that the health care provider on the other end of the phone will remember forever. A lot of things are time-sensitive in the health care field…we all know that; be patient with your health care companions, because we all have a lot going on.

Communication is a skill that is best acquired with experience. As time goes on, you’ll find that those calls you used to dread, aren’t so bad anymore.

:)Lauren