10 Tips to Help Improve Communication with Caregivers

Being an active member of your loved one’s care can make a difference.

May 5, 2016

And It Starts With Working Together


Being an active member of your loved one’s care can make a difference. MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital continually works to improve communication with patients and their families. Later this year, we will be introducing a new in-room, patient education system that will offer hospital information, patient education and entertainment.

1. Pick a Point of Contact
Choose one person to speak with healthcare providers. Have that person relay information to family and friends.

2. Share Online
Use a free website for patient updates. Sharing information online is quicker and less stressful than contacting numerous people.

3. Be Aware
The patient’s admissions packet includes important information such as the hospital’s visiting hours, policies and procedures.

4. Write it Down
Write down important contacts and phone numbers. Take notes and keep a journal or binder.

5. Ensure Understanding
Ask questions and repeat the answers in your own words. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something is unclear or confusing.

6. Learn about Medications
Ask for the spelling of new medications, drug interactions and side effects. Write down names and dosages so patients will have an easy reference.

7. Ask about Test Results
Find out how you will receive test results. Don’t assume results are fine if you don’t get them when expected. Make sure to ask what the results mean for the patient’s care. Take advantage of the MyCare feature on our website to track and view test results. 

8. Look for Changes
Family members may notice changes in a patient’s condition before others. Notify someone if you see a change — even a slight one. Your observation could lead to faster treatment or a different approach. Patients and caregivers can dial 33 from a hospital phone if they notice a sudden change and need assistance.

9. Understand Surgical Options
Ask questions if your loved one needs surgery. What will happen during the surgery? How long it will take? What will recovery be like? How is the patient likely to feel afterward?

10. Share Your Experience
Tell healthcare providers about your experience – positive or negative. Your insights and suggestions could lead to changes which will help improve patient care.

Learn more at MedStarStMarys.org/PatientInfo