Barriers to effective communication in health information management


Nothing affects human relation more than communication. It is the cohesive element of what makes all cooperative ventures possible. Communication is a process of exchanging information. In fact, it is a process whereby the ideas, images, feelings, emotions, perceptions and pinion of one person or group of persons are transmitted to another.

However, there are noticeable hindrances to effective communication. These hindrances are referred to as barriers to effective communication. This in one way or the other affects the smooth flow of in ever system. And it is pertinent to note that when information are not properly channel or managed they become barriers to effective communication.

Briefly put, without effective communication nothing can be done in a coordinated way in any institution. So it plays a very important role in all human endeavours and also in health information management. Therefore effective communication is a vital tool to development.

According to Alex (2012), effective communication save money; that it’s easy and simple and saves lot money because oral communication is the less expensive way to communicate with each other. Secondly it allows feedback on the spot. So if the receiver is not 100% sure of what the message meant, then that feedback will be answered right away. Thirdly, because the message is instantly, it helps in avoiding time wasted and lastly, it brings personal warmth and friendliness and develops a sense of bonding because of the contact between the sender and the receiver. Philip (2012) postulated that there is no instant feedback between the sender and the receiver if that the massage is misunderstood. The patient might understand the message differently e.g. booking of appointment or follow-up treatment. Also different meaning might be conveyed by manner of speaking, tone of voice and facial expressions by the officer. Falim (2011) commented that effective communication occurs when a message is completely understood by its recipients. Communication encompasses most areas of life. It is used in both business and personal relationship. Communication is intended to inform, persuade or inspire the listener.

Edward(2010) assured that effective communication provide clear direction and vision, that without direction, the patient will be left to use his own judgment on how to accomplish a task which can which can lead to confusion and frustration. He also stress that effective communication provides clarity to avoid any confusion, without clarity, misunderstandings commonly occur when people don’t understand exactly what is being communicated to them or expected of them. They take wrong decisions e.g. a physician diagnosed a patient and advice surgical operation without proper orientation with fear, the patient can ignored the operation and that can lead to patient’s death.

Conceptual framework

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Akanji (1999) observed in hospital each professional group cannot function as an island as each group must interact with others for effective health care delivery. He further said that some health workers do not primarily behave in team work due to professional arrogance. However, this means that there is lack of cooperation among the health workers. He says that communication in health care cannot be effective if the medical staff misunderstand the laboratory scientific. If nurse on duty cannot read, nor understand the instructions left in the case folder by the medical staff. If the health officer cannot make available the case folder of a patient when required. If the document in the case folder are not properly arranged according to the specific standard. Then it will be difficult to have access to them and communication cannot take place. In practice, the health record officer communication with the patient during ‘documentation when given appointment and when giving appointment and when retrieving tie folder. The doctor also communicate with patient during consultation, the health record staff e.g. sex, age, occupation guides the doctor in diagnosis and treatment.

While the diagnosis and by the doctor to the health record officers for coding and indexing. The folder also serves as a communication medium between the health teams during hospitalization of the patient. The health record officers also give timely and accurate statistical returns to hospitals management which help them in planning notification to appropriate authorities. Health record is defined by the world health organization (W.H.O) as the collection of data complied on a patient to assist in his clinical care for both present and future illness. Going by that the above definition, it is very clear that the health record is a good communication medium for the health care providers and the outside community who might have something to do with health matter of the patient.

Huffman (1972) outline the purpose of health record as follows:

  • To provide a means of communicating between the physician and other professionals.
  • Serve as a basic of planning individual care.
  • Serve as a basic for analysis study and evaluating of the quality of care rendered.
  • It consists in protecting the legal interest of the patient, hospital and physician.
  • Providing clinical data for the use in research and education
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Communication defined

Communication is the transfer of ideas from the sender to the receiver. Nwachukwu (1987) defined communication as any means that an individual uses to express ideas, feelings, emotion or attitude to others. Agbadudu (2005) state that communication is the process by a information is exchange and understanding mutually by two or more people, usually with the interest to motivate or influence behaviour, that is, communication is given or exchanging of ideas or information either by speech writing or by other means.

Balogun (2006) view communication as “any act by which one person gives or receive from another person’s information about the person’s needs, desires, perception, knowledge or affective states. He also stated that communication is a process in which a person through the use of signs, symbols, verbally conveys meaning to anther in order to effect changes.

Ekete (2009) defined communication as the means of transmitting information from one person to another. I n other words, it is the process of letting the receiver possess certain facts which are available to the sender. Also for communication to be effective, it must be acted upon.

Means of communication

Overtime, the method and means used to communication have expanded greatly. In early records, primitive cave painting were used to communicate information and transmit message. Today, communication has expanded and is easier than before. Television allows messages to be communicated quickly and instantly to millions of viewers world all over. Perhaps nothing has changed communication so much as internet while television and radio provided one way communication. The internet allows for two-way exchange of information and lets people throughout the world send data instantly and share ideas immediately.

The communication process

The steps through which ideas or information move from its concepts to the time it reaches the receiver and a feedback is got. A message or communication is sent by the sender through a communication channel, and the receivers then decodes the message to understand its meaning. According to Stephen and Robbins (2006), there are various models of communication process. The one presented below is simple model. The process initiated by a sender through a medium to a receiver decodes the message and responds through a feedback system to the sender.

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The sender (source): According to Agbadudu (2005), the sender can be individual or a group of people. As the source of message, you need to be clear why you are communicating and what to communicate. The primary requirements necessary to begin the process are ideas or information that have some form of interest and purpose for the communication.

Message: The message is the information that you want to communicate

Encoding: This is the process of transferring the information you want to communicate into a form that can be sent and correctly decoded at the other end.

Decoding: The process of taking time to read a message carefully, or listen attentively.

Channel: Is the path in which the messages follows from the sender to the receiver. There are multiple communication channels; however they are in different category.

Spoken or verbal communication: Face to face, telephone, radio or television, other, media.

Nonverbal communication: It includes images, action, and behavior.

Written communication: Letters, e-mails, books, magazines, internet or other media.

Visualization: Graphs, Charts, Maps, Photograph etc.

Receiver; When message is delivered to members of audience, the receiver interprets the signal in terms of his or her personal experience.

Feedback; The feedback is to determine whether the receiver has got the interest message.

Context: The situation in which your message is delivered is the context. This may include the surrounding environment.

Channels of communication

The channel of communication is divided into three (3) parts, which includes:

(a) Upward (subordinate-superior)

(b) Downward (superior-subordinate)

(c) Horizontal/Lateral communication (source).


Agbadudu, A.B. & Iyayi, F.I.O (2005). Management Nigerian perspective; Malthouse Press Limited. Lagos Nigeria.

Balogun, F.U. & Ogunde, B. A. (2006). Basic communication skills for higher education; Justice Jeco Press and Publishers Limited.Benin City, Edo state.

Cole, G.A. (2005); Personnel and Human resources management; Fifth edition Book Power London. FEP

Nwachukwu, C.C (1987); Management theory and practice; African fep publishers Limited, Onitsha Nigeria.

Stephen and Robbins (2006); Organizational Behaviour. (11th ed.) Practice Hall, New Deihi.

Wikipeadia: The free EncyclopeadiaWww.Wikipeadia Organization Communication.

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