Effective communication with co-workers improves job satisfaction in primary care
Professional communication networks — described by researchers as “face-to-face interaction about patient care among the health care professionals in a primary care team” — may improve job satisfaction, according to survey results published in Annals of Family Medicine.
“Team-based care is the cornerstone of relationship-centered health care for patients with chronic illness,” Marlon P. Mundt, PhD, a health economist and professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, told Healio Primary Care. “Forces driving primary care’s transition to the team-based model are the complexity of modern medical care, ever-expanding lists of recommended clinical practice guidelines and a fundamental problem for solo clinicians of too much work and too little time to simultaneously provide acute, chronic and preventive care.”
To see if professional communication networks improve job satisfaction rates, Mundt and Larissa I. Zakletskaia, PhD, a senior database administrator at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, surveyed 143 health care professionals — physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, medical assistants, clinical managers, laboratory technicians, radiology technicians and medical receptionists — from five primary care clinics in the Midwest. The questions in the survey covered topics such as discussing patient care with other care team members, the frequency and method of communication used with co-workers (either face to face or electronic) and job satisfaction in the past 6 months.
Using a scale of 1 to 8 (8 being the highest level of job satisfaction), Mundt and Zakletskaia “calculated correlations” between the physician and nurse practitioner and the job satisfaction of clinic members to whom they were directly connected through electronic or face-to-face communications. Then for each of the study participants, the researchers calculated the mean job satisfaction of the clinic members who had either an electronic or face-to face communication with either the physician or the nurse practitioner.
Researchers determined that the lowest job satisfaction score (5.1) was reported by female physicians and the highest (6.4) was reported by radiology technicians.
“Modeling showed that individuals who were in the core of the communication network had significantly greater job satisfaction than those who were on the periphery,” according to Mundt and Zakletskaia, adding that allowing all team members to be interconnected in their face-to-face communication and to share in team-based care could increase job satisfaction
“High-functioning, effectively communicating primary care teams are a solution to the difficulty of effectively delivering care to primary care patients with diabetes and other chronic conditions,” Mundt said.
The size of the cohort did not greatly concern Clif Knight, MD, CPE, FAAFP, the American Academy of Family Physicians’ senior vice president of education. Knight, who was not affiliated with the survey but oversees many of AAFP’s burnout prevention initiatives, said “there is some power in studies such as these.”
Knight told Healio Primary Care that Mundt and Zakletskaia’s model “made very good sense, especially for family physicians who have a high regard for relationships and effective communication.”
He pointed to studies to that have described other effective team-based models, including hiring a scribe, conducting huddles with co-workers and pre-planning for patient visits as much as possible.
According to Knight, AAFP offers resources on its website to help clinicians implement various team-based models, adding that it would be beneficial for physicians to check those resources out.
“Currently the [team-based] models are often considered luxuries that are too resource intense,” Knight said. “This is short-sighted. Patients, physicians and staff find them more satisfying and more efficient.” – by Janel Miller
Disclosures: Mundt, Zakletskaia and Knight report no relevant financial disclosures.