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From The CriticsReviewer: Susanne Astley(Creighton University Medical Center)
Description: This slim book is dedicated to improving medical practices by improving communication. It espouses strengthening bonds between physicians and staff to enhance organizational effectiveness.
Purpose: The AMA purports to use the common language of medicine to achieve a common goal: quality patient care. The aim is to assist practices in providing positive leadership, improving physician-staff communication, and gaining sensitivity to differing communication styles.
Audience: The book is aimed primarily at physician leadership of medical practices and practice managers.
Features: The three chapters in Part 1 are devoted to general principles of communication, including such topics as communication styles and managing conflict. The lengthier Part II, chapters 4-9, applies these tenets to medical practices, largely outpatient. Although the AMA does not acknowledge any information on the authors, editors, or contributors to this work, web sites and bibliographies following each chapter offer specific citations for additional exploration. These sources are wide-ranging, including communication theorists, a novel, etiquette texts, practice management manuals, and Confucius. Some typical recommendations are physician leaders should consider flattening the organizational pyramid, empower employees, and manage with a "light hand," all routine for some years in most industries. There are also a few "case studies," simple descriptions of practices using interdisciplinary teams.
Assessment: The value of this book is primarily for those interested in an abstract review of communication techniques. It offers a few practical suggestions for medical practices but has a fair amount of filler, restating the evident, such as employees can order supplies via fax rather than phone, and cautions that businesses requiring pagers to be turned off "impairs their usefulness" in the technology chapter. It may serve as an introduction to thinking about communication concepts but falls short in offering new methodology for managing practices based upon those theories.