One of the key goals of the Regional One Health Center for Innovation is to find a way to better create a positive relationship between the patient and the provider. The best way to do this is to develop ways to improve communication.

Sometimes the best way to innovate is to create a new tool. Sometimes it’s a matter of first reorienting our thinking.

Sometimes it’s as simple as taking a breath.

There are hundreds of quotes about how breathing relates to life. I know it might sound a little silly to say that “breathing is the key to life,” but I can’t help but see the comparison between breathing and good communication between the patient and the provider.

We often have to be taught to breathe “well.” It’s something our bodies know how to to do, but we can forget about how to do it well in times of stress. Expectant parents take classes on breathing. Athletes talk about how important breathing is to good performance. When we feel mental stress, we have to remind ourselves to relax and breathe. We have to consciously focus our energies to it.

Communication is the same way. Hundreds of articles are written about better communication. Just because we know how to talk, or how to relay information, doesn’t know that we always know how to communicate well. It can also be easy to momentarily forget what we do know, as someone forgetting to take a breath.

When our bodies are under stress, we all can forget to breathe. When we’re sick, we can also fail to communicate our issues to our providers until it is too late. In fact, just the thought of communicating with providers can often bring on more stress.

How can we simplify communication between a patient and his or her provider? We need to develop innovative tools and processes that allow the providers and support staff to communicate as easily as taking a breath. The patient has to be able to receive information and communicate back to the provider in a way that’s as easy as breathing out.

How can the Center for Innovation learn to breathe better and easier?

Maybe we are overthinking it, making it harder than we should. Maybe we just need to step back and take a deep breath.