To improve practitioner-patient relationship through effective communication, and attain better prognosis with optimal adherence to treatment, the Department of Optometry and Visual Science, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), together with ORBIS International, Ghana, held a Patient Communication Workshop at the KNUST School of Business Postgraduate Centre on 22nd March 2022.
The workshop, titled “Communicating with Patients and their Families in Eyecare,” had fifty (50) eye care professionals, including optometrists, ophthalmologists, and ophthalmic nurses, in attendance. The workshop was led by Kenneth Youngstein, Director of Foundation for Health and Mind Development and Chief Executive Officer of Biocom Limited.
Prior to the start of the workshop, Dr. Kwadwo Owusu Akuffo, Head of the Department of Optometry and Visual Science, KNUST, briefed participants on the workshop’s purpose and subsequently introduced Dr. Youngstein, the resource person for the program.
Of note, the workshop was in four sessions. The first session comprised an introductory presentation on communication and the essential skills to effective communication. In the second part, the lead facilitator, Dr. Youngstein, indicated the clinical benefits of good communication, particularly understanding patients’ perspectives on their condition. He elaborated on the difference between disease and illness. Thus, the former reflects diagnosis based on a series of clinical tests, whereas the latter constitutes patients’ symptoms and how they impact their quality of life. Following the explanation, Dr. Youngstein emphasized that good patient communication always included illness as part of its focus and not just the disease. He encouraged eye care professionals to recognize patients as partners in care delivery.
During the third session, participants were grouped into three and were asked to brainstorm possible responses to some practical clinical questions aimed at identifying challenges professionals face when communicating with patients and how such challenges could be addressed. One of such challenges was handling entrenched beliefs held by patients on ocular diseases and treatment. After the interactive session, common challenges ran across responses from all groups, particularly language barrier and lack of precise terms to explain eye conditions. This discussion set the premise for the last part where “THE EYE BOOK” and its translation, “ANI NWOMA NO,” were introduced to bridge the language barrier and help professionals communicate effectively and efficiently with their patients.
Dr. Kwadwo Amoah, the Ashanti Regional Ophthalmologist, expressed profound gratitude to Dr. Youngstein for such an informative workshop. He also thanked his colleagues in attendance and encouraged all to practice the lessons obtained from the workshop in their clinical practice and community engagements to harness the full benefits of effective communication with patients in eye care delivery.