tool for collecting or giving information. When one is
engaged in listening, it is important to direct attention
to both the verbal and nonverbal cues provided by the
other person. Like many other skills necessary for
providing a healthcare service, listening requires
conscious effort and constant practice. Your listening
skills can be improved and enhanced by developing the
following attitudes and skills:
Hear the speaker out.
Focus on ideas.
Remove or adjust distractions.
Concentrate on the immediate interaction.
As a healthcare provider, you will be using the
communication process to service a patients needs,
both short and long-term. To simplify this discussion,
short-term needs will be discussed under the heading
of patient contact point. Long-term needs will be
discussed under the heading of therapeutic
PATIENT CONTACT POINT
To give you a frame of reference for the following
discussion, the following definitions will clarify and
standardize some critical terms:
Initial contact pointThe physical location
where patients experience their first
communication encounter with a person
representing, in some role, the healthcare
Contact pointThe place or event where the
contact point person and the patient meet. The
contact point meeting can occur anywhere in a
facility and also includes telephone events.
Contact point personThe healthcare
provider in any healthcare experience who is
tasked by role and responsibility to provide a
service to the patient.
The contact point person has certain criteria to
meet in establishing a good relationship with the
Helping the patient through trying
experiences is partially the responsibility of all contact
point personnel. Such healthcare providers must not
only have skills related to their professional
assignment, but they must also have the ability to
interact in a positive, meaningful way to communicate
concern and the desire to provide a service.
Consumers of healthcare services expect to be
treated promptly, courteously, and correctly.
expect their care to be personalized and communicated
to them in terms they understand. The Navy healthcare
system is a service system, and it is the responsibility
of every healthcare provider to give professional,
quality customer service.
The significance of the contact point and the
responsibility of the personnel staffing this area are
important to emphasize. The following message from
a former Surgeon General of the Navy reflects the
philosophy of the Navy Medical Department regarding
contact point interactions.
Some of the most frequent complaints
received by the Commander, Bureau of
Medicine and Surgery, are those pertaining to
the lack of courtesy, tact, and sympathetic
regard for patients and their families exhibited
by Medical Department personnel and initial
points of contact within Navy Medical
These points of initial patient
contact, which include central appointment
desks, telephones, patient affairs offices,
emergency rooms, pharmacies, laboratories,
record offices, information desks, walk-in and
specialty clinics, and gate guards, are critical
in conveying to the entering patient the sense
that Navy Medicine is there to help them. The
personnel, both military and civilian, who man
these critical areas are responsible for
ensuring that the assistance that they provide is
truly reflective of the spirit of caring for
which the Navy Medical Department must
No matter how excellent and expert the care in
the facility may be, an early impression of
nonchalance, disregard, rudeness, or neglect
of the needs of patients reflects poorly on its
efforts and achievements. Our personnel must
be constantly on their guard to refrain from
off-hand remarks or jokes in the presence of
patients or their families. We must insist that
our personnel in all patient areas are
professional in their attitudes. What may be
commonplace to us may be to a patient
frightening or subject to misinterpretation.
By example and precept, we must insist that, in
dealing with our beneficiaries, no complaint is
ever too trivial not to deserve the best response
of which we are capable. . . .