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How to Improve Communication between Patient and Doctor?

communication doctor patient

Imagine this as a patient when you are under extreme duress and walk into a clinic or hospital; clear communication is often not feasible. Still, you expect the doctor to understand the concerns and treat them accordingly. 

Compelling and well-enunciated communications are quite rare between patient and doctor. Healthcare professionals must treat a diverse range of people who often are challenging to describe concerns in medical or scientific terms. Thus, in communication between patient and doctor, professionals need to understand the patients’ query even when described most colloquially and vaguely.

This article will discuss how to improve patient-clinician communication: basic principles, key advice, and main obstacles. 

Importance of Quality Patient-Doctor Communication

Health care aims to preserve and enhance patients’ health in terms of disease, damage, functional status, and overall well-being. However, achieving these goals depends on physician-patient relationships, in which both parties’ perspectives must be conveyed and communicated effectively. 

Did you know that communicative errors are a major contributing factor to hospital sentinel events? During times of emergency, there is an increased risk of poor communication between doctor and patient. It can lead to poor health outcomes and inappropriate medical care. 

In an era of more patient-centered treatment and rising clinical complexity, compelling effective communication between the patient and the practitioner is more crucial than ever. Patients are the key stakeholders and should take an active part in choosing the appropriate clinical care for themselves. Clinicians, in turn, should value patients’ opinions and expectations, and give them the attention they deserve when making treatment decisions.

Nowadays, a fundamental clinical competence is understanding the importance of doctor-patient communication. How physicians interact with patients can significantly influence how they feel about their treatment and how they maintain their health outcomes after leaving the doctor’s care.

What are the Barriers to Effective Doctor-Patient Communication?

Healthcare professionals must address the reasons for failure in communication to find effective remedies. We gathered the key barriers to effective contact between the medical practitioner and patient:

A fundamental lack of empathy and/or communication skills

PCPs can lose sight of patient care, relying instead on methods and formalities rather than direct, honest dialogue.


Keeping information secret 

 Clinical results might be significantly impacted if patients do not fully comprehend their health condition or treatment options.

Discouraging patient participation

 Ignoring patients’ pleas for clarification and/or preventing them from expressing their expectations or worries. Patients could feel powerless, which could result in treatment failure.


They avoid talking when it comes to emotional or social impact. There is no use in talking about a problem if the medical practitioner believes they cannot assist their patient with it.

However, these barriers can be easily overcome by following the below-mentioned principles. 

What are the Basic Principles of Patient-Clinician Communication?

All forms of interaction between patient and doctor require basic communicative abilities. These consist of:

  • written,

  • nonverbal,

  • spoken influences. 

Healthcare professionals can increase patient satisfaction if they have a strong balance of all these abilities. Sometimes all it takes to win someone over is the correct body language or just listening intently to what they have to say.

There are some basic conversation skills that physicians must be proficient in, like active listening, empathy, and the use of open-ended inquiries to delve into a patient’s past are a few of them. Let’s discuss essential effective professional communication skills in detail:


  • Connect on a social level.

  • Consider the patient’s viewpoint.

  • Consciously try to suspend judgment

  • Recognize and refrain from making assumptions.


Empathy during med practice

  • Remember, the patient has asked you for med assistance.

  • Look for and comprehend the patient’s justifications for their actions or sickness.

  • Recognize and validate the sentiments of your patient out loud.


Systematic Support

  • Discover any obstacles to care and compliance.

  • Assist the patient in overcoming obstacles and give feedback.

  • Include their family member if it seems sensible to do so.

  • Assure the patient that you are and will be willing to assist them.


  • Be adaptable, discuss roles and respect each other.

  • Emphasize that you will be collaborating to address medical issues.


Trust with awareness

  • For certain patients not used to Western medical practices, self-disclosure may be a problem.

  • Invest the required time and deliberately try to build trust.


Cultural competence

  • The doctor should respect the patient’s culture and beliefs.

  • Recognize that the patient’s perception of you can be shaped by preconceptions based on ethnicity or culture.

  • Acknowledge your prejudices and biases.

  • Identify your limitations while dealing with medical difficulties in different cultures.

  • Admit when your unique approach might not be appropriate for a specific patient.

Best Practices for Physician-Patient Communication in Virtual consultations 

A healthy patient-physician relationship depends on doctors delivering information clearly and compassionately. Effective clinician-patient communication may need to be improved in virtual consultations, which call for more clinical production while providing less time for each patient.

Nevertheless, telemedicine has become increasingly popular, especially since the pandemic. According to National Health Interview Survey:
In 2021, 37.0% of patients used telemedicine services.
Telehealthcare calls for enhanced communication through interviews with patients, compassionate conversation techniques, and collaborative decision-making. Successful discussion is essential to patient outcomes. A med practitioner, who fosters open conversation, can gather more detailed data, increase the likelihood of a more precise diagnosis, and permit appropriate counseling. All of these might improve medical adherence to long-term health-promoting treatment programs.

Here are some basic recommendations for doctor-patient communication in a virtual practice:

  • doctors must use patient-centered interviews and compassionate conversation.
  • doctors should encourage patients to prepare for appointments by writing down their inquiries. Patients should have a form to ask queries before the appointment. The patient’s significant interests can be discussed more easily with the help of a well-organized set of questions.
  • sessions on gender and cultural sensitivity for doctors and office workers with a communications expert must be regularly scheduled.
    The Office of Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has developed the National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services Standards (CLAS) to advance health equity, enhance quality, and assist in eliminating health care disparities. It could be wise for obstetricians and gynecologists to assess these voluntary standards.
  • hospitals can recruit non-physicians with experience doing interviews, such as med assistants or senior nurse practitioners.
  • healthcare professionals can utilize reminder apps to text patients about upcoming appointments. According to the Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey:
    70% of people are more inclined to select health care providers who send SMS reminders regarding follow-up medication.
  • when patients return home and have had a chance to process the information from their providers, medical practitioners can check in with them again using a remote health service. Clinicians may check that patients and their families have all the required information, offer extra data, and address any issues with a quick text message or video chat.
  • doctors may use the same virtual connection tools to offer continuing support and education about illness management to chronically unwell patients. For instance, a primary care physician’s office may connect diabetic patients with nutritionists and other internal resources via video chats while also sending links to informative articles or videos, improving doctor-patient email communication.
  • long-term practice models that extend the time between virtual visits can be promoted so that many problems with the doctor-patient relationship are addressed. Ample time should be provided for virtual consultations so that there is enough time for interviews with patients, shared decision-making, and patient-physician contact.

Communication Skills between Doctor and Patient

The STUDER Group has developed the AIDET communication tool outlining the main principles of patient-clinician conversation and patient satisfaction. It facilitates patient-clinician wires and has been applied in various therapeutic contexts.

Here we gather the main rules to make better medical communication:


Make eye contact with patients, smile, and say hi.

Make them feel valued.


Give your name and position in the doctor-patient introduction.

Describe your plan of action and how you will contribute to the process.

Pay attention to the patient’s comments.



Estimate the duration of the procedure and any potential waiting periods. Inform the patient if the schedule changes.


Discuss what you intend to accomplish for or with the patient. Find out if the patient has any questions or concerns.

Thank You: 

Thank the patient for their participation and cooperation.

TOP 5 is another method that emphasizes clinician-patient interaction.

The Clinical Excellence Commission adopted a plan that the Central Coast Local Health District had created in collaboration with caregivers at a few hospitals across NSW.

In this method, clinical personnel interacts with caregivers formally. The goal is to learn and write down up to five significant non-clinical management techniques and ideas for individualized care.

  • talk to the caregiver;

  • obtain knowledge and information;

  • personalize the medication plan; 

  • provide non-clinical management techniques and advice for individualized care developed by clinical personnel and caregivers. 

So, what are the Benefits of professional Physician-Patient relations?

Establishing rapport, exchanging information, and including patients in decision-making are some objectives of medical discussion. Strong wires make it possible for health care professionals to precisely identify patients’ requirements and expectations. Patients, who feel that their doctor communicates well, report being more satisfied with their medical care and inclined to take advice and follow a recommended course of the health plan.

In the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Vice Presidential Address, Terry Canale said,

“The patient will never care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Medical professionals must recall this while dealing with patients. Understanding your patient’s emotional complexity is an incredible place to start if you want a fruitful conversation. Effective doctor-patient contact can offer encouragement, support, reassurance, and incentives to adhere to a recommended course of medication. These components are in danger if this relationship fails.

If, as a pharma company or medical institute, you want to communicate clearly to fellow healthcare professionals and general people, then Viseven can help you provide top-quality content.

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