Driving Effective Communication in Nursing

communication in nursing

Effective communication in nursing is central to providing top-quality patient care. Nurses communicate with patients to understand their health issues, and they provide them with the care and compassion needed for recovery. Accomplishing effective communication with patients directly impacts patient health outcomes, and it has far-fetched implications when carried out ineffectively. As such, effective communication in nursing drives patient-centered care. 

Practicing good communications is also vital to collaborating on interdisciplinary care teams, consisting of healthcare practitioners from various disciplines. Since nurses spend a large part of their workday at a patient’s bedside, they’re expected to contribute to ongoing conversations regarding patient health. This equips doctors to gain comprehensive information regarding the patient’s health and allows them to deliver timely patient care.

This blog discusses how effective communication in nursing is key to delivering successful patient outcomes. We also explore how technology can act as a catalyst to simplify effective nurse communication.   

Costs associated with ineffective communication

Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is a standardized method for the federal government to track patient experience in hospitals. CMS disburses a fraction of Medicare payments from acute-care hospitals on the basis of HCAHPS scores. The overarching goal of introducing HCAHPS is to align incentives with policy goals of providing top notch patient experience.

It is important to note that over half of the survey questions on HCAHPS focus directly on nurse – patient communication. As such, hospitals that promote a strong culture of effective communication in nursing can greatly improve HCAHPS scores and ensure long-term business resiliency. 

Ineffective communication not only impacts the financial health of hospitals, but it also creates an unsafe environment for patients. Communication failure is cited to be one of the top three reasons for sentinel events in healthcare. Reports suggest communication failures constituted 30 percent of all malpractice claims, and it resulted in 1,744 deaths and cost hospitals over $1.7 billion in malpractice claims over five years.     

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Role of nurses in limiting poor communication  

Nurses liaison between patients and the doctor, facilitating the exchange of accurate information between them while being respectful and empathetic. Simply put, nurses are expected to create an environment of trust and empathy while navigating sensitive communications. This helps in facilitating seamless information exchange and building a safer health system for patients. 

Nurses that show compassion and empathy toward patients are also more likely to achieve meaningful, positive nurse-patient relationships. This is especially relevant in today’s times, where patient-centered care (PCC) is paramount. Needless to say, nurse care teams that prioritize PCC have a proven approach to improving patient satisfaction and increasing patient retention.    

Benefits of effective communication in nursing

Previously, we’ve alluded to costs associated with poor nurse communication. Communication failures lead to treatment plans getting derailed and hinders the delivery of optimal patient care. This creates an unsafe environment for patients and negatively impacts nurse morale.

When communication in nursing is carried out effectively, the benefits are manifold. Some key metrics that experience positive impact are enlisted below:

  • Patient length of stay
  • Nurse turnover rate
  • Medical errors
  • Readmission rates
  • Response times to patient calls
  • Time elapsed between ordering lab test, results and planning out treatment plans
  • Patient safety
  • Patient retention and HCAHPS scores
  • Faster prescription delivery
  • Quicker and safer handoffs (discharge and transfers, both), and many more..

Something interesting to note here is that by just focusing on one lever of improvement in healthcare, that is nurse communication, hospitals can realize significant improvements in all of the above metrics. 

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How technology challenges hinder nurse communication everyday

In their efforts to improve communication, sometimes healthcare organizations end up with tools that are counterproductive to clinical workflows. Tools such as pagers add to the siloed, broken communication prevalent in healthcare, further jeopardizing communication in nursing and putting patients’ health at risk. 

Ineffective nurse communication tools come in the way of patient care, preventing them from operating at the top of license effectively. Instead of tending to patients, they find themselves carrying out administrative tasks, rummaging through different versions of paper on-call schedules to get to the on-call specialist. Or even worse, finding themselves in a page and phone tag cycle when a patient requires immediate care. 

How the right technology can enhance nurse communications

Not all technologies are counterproductive to clinical workflows. Clinical collaboration and communication solutions play the role of force multiplier, facilitating effective nurse communication in healthcare. Tools, such as OnPage, allow nurses to streamline their communication with other care members. This improves collaboration and enables a seamless information exchange, maximizing collective knowledge regarding a patient’s health. 

Clinical communication and collaboration (CC&C) tools offer a unified communication experience, connecting disparate health systems and centralizing the hospital’s communication channel onto one single phone application. With CC&C, critical notifications, including alerts from electronic health record systems (EHR), high-priority messages, alarms and notifications are routed through a single platform, and distributed to the right care team members at their fingertips. 

At its core, CC&C allows nurses to deliver exceptional patient-centered care. Organizations can leverage CC&C to empower nurses to create a positive impact on their patient’s health outcomes, preventing them from wasting time on technologies that breed inefficiencies. 


On this blog, we have discussed the benefits of effective nurse communication and explored the role of technology in enabling simplified nurse communication. We’ve also explored how the CC&C technology offers nurses with a unified, single source of truth for information, facilitating decision-making and enhancing communication with other team members.

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