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3 steps to mastering the art of patient communication

Follow 3 simple steps to ensure you and your patients are speaking the same language.

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Effective communication has long been one of the most important skills you can possess in healthcare. In today’s patient-centric healthcare environment, these skills have never been more challenging to practice—or more important to master.


According to the Institute for Healthcare Communication, studies show a strong correlation between the communication skills of a healthcare team and a patient’s ability to follow medical instructions, self manage a chronic disease and practice recommended health behaviors.1


In fact, certain communication competencies can have a profound impact on patient experience, satisfaction and even clinical outcomes.1

Insider insight: Communication skills patients value most2




An open mind




Willingness to ask questions and initiate conversations


Careful listening




Showing genuine interest in them




Investing time and effort to educate them and make sure they understand the illness


Roberto Benzo

Roberto Benzo, MD, MSc

Motivational-Based Health Coach

Vernon Pertelle

Vernon Pertelle, RRT

President and CEO of StratiHealth

Management Consultant for ACOs

Chikita Mann

Chikita Mann, MSN, RN, CCM

Disability RN Case Manager Supervisor

Genex Services, LLC for the State of Georgia

Patient doctor communication icon

The COPD foundation can help you start the conversation with your patients

Go beyond clinical aspects of care to have a rich, productive conversation with your patients. You’ll find out what gives their lives meaning, which can help you co-create a more personalized treatment plan.”

Vernon Pertelle, RRT

President and CEO of StratiHealth

Management Consultant for ACOs

3 steps you can start implementing today to maintain open lines of communication with the patients you serve

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Communication skills can help you educate and empower your patients as well as help you become a better listener. And that makes everyone feel better.

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Further reading

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COPD insider


1.Impact of Communication in Healthcare. Institute for Healthcare Communication website. http://healthcarecomm.org/about-us/impact-of-communication-in-healthcare/. Published July 2011. Accessed April 19, 2018.

2.Six physician strategies to increase patient engagement. Envision Physician Services website. http://sheridanhealthcare.com/news-events/blog/six-communication-strategies-increase-patient-engagement-improve-outcome. Published August 15, 2016. Accessed April 19, 2018.

3.Jahromi VK, Tabatabaee SS, Abdar ZE, Rajabi M. Active listening: The key of successful communication in hospital managers. Electron Physician. 2016;8(3):2123-2128.

4.Tayal SC, Michelson K, Tayal NH. Listening with empathy. AMA Steps Forward website. https://www.stepsforward.org/modules/empathetic-listening. Accessed April 23, 2018.

5.Hirsch L. Patient Experience and the Lost Art of Listening. Patient Experience website. http://patientexperience.com/patient-experience-lost-art-listening/. Published August 4, 2015. Accessed April 20, 2018.

6.Berry RLAALL. Making Time to Really Listen to Your Patients. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2017/10/making-time-to-really-listen-to-your-patients. Published October 9, 2017. Accessed April 26, 2018.

7.Dinardo P. How healthcare professionals can encourage patients to speak. Gold Foundation website. http://www.gold-foundation.org/newsroom/blog/healthcare-professionals-can-encourage-patients-speak/. Published November 25, 2014. Accessed April 23, 2018.

8.Nielsen-Bohlman L, Panzer AM, Kindig DA. Executive Summary. In: Nielsen-Bohlman L, Panzer AM, Kindig DA, eds. Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2004.

9.Omachi TA, Sarkar U, Yelin EH, Blanc PD, Katz PP. Lower health literacy is associated with poorer health status and outcomes in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. J Gen Intern Med. 2013;28(1):74-81.

10.Disler R, Appleton J, Smith T, et al. Empowerment in people with COPD. Patient Intell. 2015;2016(8):7-20.

11.Chiauzzi E, DasMahapatra P, Cochin E, Bunce M, Khoury R, Dave P. Factors in patient empowerment: a survey of an online patient research network. Patient. 2016;9(6):511-523.  

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