The impact of effective communication strategies on healthcare outcomes was explored by delegates from across the MENA region, Europe and the US during a virtual conference hosted by Weil Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q).

The Healthcare Communications in the Middle East conference brought together leading regional and international experts to share best practices, examine recent research, and discuss communication policies and standards in the healthcare systems of different countries.

The two-day event featured presentations, discussion sessions and four practical workshops on a wide range of issues, including the role of cultural competence training; current healthcare communications teaching strategies in Arabic-speaking countries; best practices for breaking bad news to patients and relatives; the impact of social media on healthcare communications; and health literacy in the MENA region.

WCM-Q Conference Healthcare Communications

The course was co-directed by English Professor Dr Alan Weber and Dr Stella Major, Associate Professor of Family Medicine in Clinical Medicine and Director of the Clinical Skills and Simulation Lab. Around 600 participants joined the conference.

Dr Major, who was recently elected Qatar Deputy National Representative for the International Association for Communication in Healthcare (EACH), said that healthcare communication has emerged as an extremely important area of study in the MENA region, driven by the extraordinary pace of modernisation of healthcare systems here and the highly diverse, multi-cultural populations of the region.

EACH and its US-affiliated organisation, the Academy of Communication in Healthcare, are two of the largest healthcare professional communications organisations in world.

Dr Major said she strongly values the key take away messages which the patient panel and the student panel presentations offered. The students drew upon their observations and remarked that health literacy gaps pose a bigger challenge than language barriers between patients and healthcare providers, affirming the importance of investing mindfully in promoting health literacy for all.

The guest patients, meanwhile, reflected on their diverse experiences as patients living with chronic disease and provided a reminder to healthcare professionals to never dismiss talking about emotions when they address their patients. Stressing their belief in the phrase ‘health is wealth’, the guest patients reiterated the notion that patients and providers must work together to achieve optimal patient-centred care.

According to Dr Weber, the success of the conference demonstrates that healthcare professionals and educators all over the MENA region are taking an extremely proactive approach to healthcare communications as a discipline.

There is a growing understanding that communication skills can and should be taught to healthcare professionals in a systematic way and that this can be a very powerful tool for optimising patient outcomes.

The event was accredited locally by the Department of Healthcare Professions (DHP) and internationally by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).

For more information about WCM-Q, visit qatar-weill.cornell.edu


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