Improving Communication with Patients

The Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHI) has published a list of the 10 most common errors made when communicating with patients. I've translated the problems into solutions.

10 Best Practices for Communicating with Patients
1. Explain and write instructions at a fifth-grade level.
2. Speak and write in common terms, not medical jargon.
3. Recommend only Internet sites with clear information that supports the physician's advice.
4. Keep font sizes at a minimum of 12 point.
5. Use only simple, literal graphics to support medical instruction.
6. Help patients understand what you say by having them explain it back in their own words.
7. Recognize cultural differences and respond with sensitivity.
8. Talk slowly and allow time for questions.
9. Provide information in the patient's first language.
10. Explain prescription instructions carefully to avoid misinterpretation.
According to the IHI, billions of dollars in unnecessary healthcare expenses can be attributed to misunderstanding between patients and providers. Beyond that, the cost of continued illness from noncompliance — and the frustration and alienation it causes — is immeasurable. 
Taking time to apply 10 common-sense communications practices can make a huge difference.
— Tom DeSanto

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