6 Tips on Improving Provider-Patient/Caregiver Communication

Healthcare providers – ever wonder if your patient understands your instructions on taking medications, monitoring health or following up? These simple tips will help with communication, provider-patient or provider-caregiver!

1. Talk slowly & slow down.

To help foster a patient-centered approach to the clinician-patient interaction, minutes. Take time to explain and access understanding.

2. Use plain language, nonmedical language.

You are the expert; you are the provider, you spent money and time learning medical lingo. Tip – explain things to your patients like you will your grandma. Using plain language will make sure understanding by your patient and caregiver. Instead of using words in column A, use column B. See a comprehensive list of simple words and phrases by PlainLanguage.gov

Column A                   Column B

Analgesic                               Pain killer

Benign                                   Not cancer

Carcinoma                            Cancer

Cardiac problem                 Heart problem

Contraception                      Birth control

Discontinue                           Stop or drop

Enlarge                                  Get bigger

Heart failure                         Heart isn’t pumping well

Hypertension                        High blood pressure

Infertility                               Can’t get pregnant

Lateral                                   Outside

Lipids                                     Fats in the blood

Menopause                           Stopping periods, change of life

Monitor                                 Keep track of, keep an eye on

Oral                                        By mouth

Osteoporosis                         Soft, breakable bones

Referral                                  Send you to another doctor

Terminal                                Going to die

Toxic                                      Poisonous

Similar to                               Like

3. Encourage questions.

Prompt patients and caregivers to ask questions. Patients may be shy and/or apprehensive. They might not know what to ask. Make patients feel comfortable, ask open-ended questions such as, “tell me about blood pressure”, “tell me how and when you take your water pill”. Consider using the Ask-Me-3 program. Caregivers seems to be play a huge role in this area.

4. Use pictures, educational videos or inforgraphic.

Using visual images helps and can improve the patient’s recall of information, discussion and instructions

5. Use the “teach-back” technique.

Confirm that patients understand by asking them to repeat back your instructions.

6. Give small details of information provided— and repeat it.

Information is best remembered when it is given in small pieces that are pertinent to the tasks at hand. Repetition further enhances recall.

Remember, the use of plain language is the LAW!

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Sources
1.       Plain Langauge – http://www.plainlanguage.gov
2.       Get the *Why Use Plain Language* poster (thanks US Census Bureau)
3.       The Health Literacy Site for the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)