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A Guide to Effective Patient Communication

Effective patient communication is a critical aspect of providing quality healthcare. Communication skills are essential for building strong relationships between healthcare providers and patients.

Why effective communication in healthcare matters

One of the most important skills a healthcare can develop is how to communicate with their patient/client. When patients are able to understand what the doctor is saying and why, they are more likely to follow through on any recommendations.

In addition to being confused, sick patients often have a hard time understanding. Different medical terms are unfamiliar to them, it is easy and common to misinterpret instructions and questions, and the amount of information depends on the patient’s specific condition. However, medical personnel have long been ignoring this fact. The ultimate aim of this  article is to help doctors improve their communication skills so that patients will be able to understand prescribed therapy more thoroughly.

Effective patient communication is a critical aspect of providing quality healthcare. Communication skills are essential for building strong relationships between healthcare providers and patients. Patients who feel heard and understood by their healthcare providers are more likely to trust them, follow their treatment plans, and have better health outcomes. 

Some best practices for effective patient communication

  1. Active listening: Healthcare providers should give their patients their undivided attention and listen actively to what they have to say. Providers should ask questions to clarify their patients’ concerns and make them feel heard.
  2. Empathy: Healthcare providers should show compassion towards their patients. Providers should understand that healthcare can be an emotional and stressful experience for patients, and each patient’s situation is unique. Providers should put themselves in their patient’s shoes to better understand their concerns and feelings.
  3. Plain language: Healthcare providers should use plain language when communicating with their patients. Medical jargon can be confusing and intimidating for patients. Using plain language is crucial to ensure that patients understand their medical conditions, treatment options, and medications.
  4. Visual aids: Healthcare providers can use visual aids such as diagrams, models, or videos to explain complex medical concepts to their patients. Visual aids are an effective way to help patients understand their medical conditions better.
  5. Respect: Healthcare providers should treat their patients with respect, regardless of their background, gender, or medical condition. Providers should always listen to their patient’s concerns and address them in a way that makes them feel valued and respected.
  6. Keep Patient Records: “Accurate documentation of our exchanges with patients helps information sharing with others in the healthcare team much easier and patients do not have to repeat their story over and over again.” – Tootie Bueser
  7. Summarize and follow-up: Healthcare providers should summarize the key points after discussing a patient’s medical condition. Providers should provide written instructions and follow up with their patients to ensure that they are following the treatment plan and have no further concerns.

In conclusion, it is imperative that patients and healthcare providers communicate effectively to ensure quality healthcare. 

In order to improve their communication skills, healthcare providers can use the following best practices: active listening, empathy, plain language, visual aids, respect, summarizing, and using visuals.

Healthcare providers can improve patient outcomes and provide better care to their patients by building strong relationships with them and communicating effectively with them. 


  1. BHF (2019) Heart to heart: the power of good communication

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