Communication Networks in Healthcare Management
Posted On 09/16/2022 17:34:37 by carmendevin


The productivity and efficiency of an organization depend on many factors, and one of the most important among them is communication between staff members and customers. This is especially true for healthcare facilities since they treat people with various health issues, providing them with care and attention. The information about previous diseases, health history, and progress is highly important for a treatment plan. Therefore, communication between patients and physicians, as well as between medical workers of different shifts and departments, helps in satisfying patient’s needs and affects the speed of recovering. Communication networks provide effective information flow between involved parties to make correct decisions, and in this regard, all-channel network suits the healthcare aims the most.

“Communication networks” is a concept the manager applies in a certain decision-making process using one of the identified patterns: chain, wheel, circle, or all-channel network (Burns, Bradley, & Weiner, 2011, p. 181). Since a healthcare facility is a complicated organization with numerous departments and teams, the communication network changes according to the objective. In terms of the practical uses, the chain is the easiest way to provide hierarchal communication between levels of the enterprise. Nurses and doctors arrange work schedules and vacations this way. In the case of an ethical or law problem, the practitioner discusses it with people from different levels and departments, who have no need to communicate with each other directly. This pattern is called a wheel and provides information for certain stakeholders only (Burns et al., 2011, p. 181). In its turn, circle network works well during meetings and events when division chiefs are able to discuss problems without a direct controller of the process. Lastly, an all-channel network is a situational approach when members freely share thoughts about the diagnosis or a treatment plan during real-time meetings (Burns et al., 2011, p. 182). The information here flows quickly in order to help the staff of the healthcare organization find the right solution and save someone’s live.

Proper communication and sharing the information between employees positively affect the productivity of the tasks and general efficiency of the enterprise. According to Ademi (2016), centralized networks work better in case of the simple questions, while decentralized, oppositely, are mostly used to handle complicated tasks. During a group discussion within a centralized model, a dominant leader controls a number of messages and an amount of information passed (Borkowski, 2015, p. 100). In such cases, staff members can feel isolated and, as a result, not happy with their work. The wheel pattern has a centralized network structure, while circle and an all-channel networks have no centralization, and the chain pattern is partly centralized (Ademi, 2016). The chain follows a line authority relationship when people report to their direct managers and they, in their turn, deliver the information to those who a have higher position than they do. The best information flow can be achieved employing the wheel and all-channel networks, while chain and circle have slow one. The wheel and all-channel structures provide the enterprise with the most accurate data comparing to others. What is more, excellent saturation is the characteristic of the circle and all-channel approaches (Ademi, 2016). Members of the organization are often not satisfied with the wheel structure, and the boss is mostly the one who is. In their turn, the circle and all-channel structures of the communication networks have the highest level of satisfaction of employees (Ademi, 2016). To conclude, network patterns have their advantages and disadvantages, and thus each of them suits solving a particular kind of problems. There is no universal network for all types of issues, so a qualified manager has to evaluate the situation and employ the best option to ensure an effective problem-solving process.

The all-channel model is the most appropriate for healthcare management. Medicine is focused on the value of a human life, and therefore, practitioner’s decisions often have an impact on the quality and duration of a patient’s life. Johnson and Sollecito (2018) claim that “an all-channel communication structure is dense” (p. 197). In other words, communication lines are open, and any staff member regardless of the status and position is encouraged to share ideas and thoughts considering the treatment plan for a certain patient. If the problem is extremely difficult, there is no time for centralized and formal communication, and decisions have to be made quickly. On the one hand, this type of communication presupposes numerous alternative options offered by medical workers. On the other hand, it can create communication overload, which happens when the communication flow is complex and too intense (Borkowski, 2015, p. 100). Such interaction may become confusing and lead to numerous disagreements. Borkowski (2015) offers using a facilitator in this case (p. 100). The person has to follow a group discussion and select appropriate ideas. Therefore, accuracy and speed of the all-channel network are benefits for a medical team and, as a result, for a patient, but it may require outside help in case of communication overload.

In conclusion, communication in the healthcare facility presupposes sharing important information that is vital for the success of a treatment plan. There are four communication networks that managers use to solve simple and complex medical problems: circle, chain, wheel, and all-channel. One network cannot suit all needs and situations, so a healthcare manager has to decide what structure is the most appropriate for a particular case. Chain and wheel networks are useful for solving simple health problems, such as making an appointment, arranging a working schedule, and so on. Circle and all-channel networks can help in searching for a source of investment and other complicated tasks since they neglect centralization lines and engage team members to speak freely. However, if to compare all characteristics of each communication network, the all-channel pattern has the best ones. It is decentralized, satisfies staff members, provides excellent accuracy, speed, and saturation of information flow.

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