Staff & Provider Engagement

Become a Good Communicator Using 3 Simple Steps

By Debbie Young

Communication is the act of giving, receiving, and sharing information. Good communicators demonstrate an ability to listen carefully, speak clearly, and exhibit respect for those who may have different opinions. Clear and effective communication with our patients in a healthcare setting can be achieved through a simple 3-step standard practice to facilitate high reliability in patient experience communication.

  • Step 1. Acknowledge and introduce. Ask/confirm the patient is ready to engage. Greet the patient with their preferred name.

    Why do it this way? It is showing respect for the patient, not causing a delay in their care, and can put the patient at ease. It creates a personal connection with the patient and their family and caregivers.

  • Step 2. Narrate Care. Use simple language. Share what you are doing and how long it will take and confirm they understand. Make sure the environment and the person are ready for the next step.

    Why do it this way? Explaining the care process in non-medical jargon enables the patient to understand and participate in their care plan. It demonstrates a commitment to exceptional care for every patient, every time. Confirming the patient’s understanding minimizes requests to repeat steps or information related to their care.

  • Step 3. Personalize completion of the encounter and manage up. Ask the patient if they have any questions about the care being delivered before you leave. Explain the next step, including the people involved and the timing of what the patient can expect.

    Why do it this way? Connecting with the patient demonstrates respect and commitment to their experience. Managing patient expectations for the next steps builds their trust and commitment to their care and comfort.

Based on the ProSci Change Management model,1 the benefit of a standard practice is not set in stone; it evolves as new evidence-based practices are identified for adoption, utilization, and proficiency. Establishing a standard practice of communication creates high reliability in an organization by reducing the variation between caregivers and establishing consistency in the timing and sequence of work steps.

By following these three easy steps, you too can become a better communicator. Your patients and their family members will appreciate being communicated with in a way they can easily understand. Personalizing your patient visits using the patient’s preferred name will foster a connection that builds trust and loyalty. And listening to their feedback demonstrates you see them as human beings worthy of dignity and respect. I encourage you to transform the human experience through communication. It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

1 ProSci Change Management model,

About the Author
Debbie Young, Clinical Performance Improvement Consultant, has worked for Sutter Health in many roles including practice management, training & development, and most recently as a Clinical Performance Improvement Consultant supporting seven medical groups and foundations in the ambulatory setting. In her current role, Debbie provides clinical leadership, direction, consultation, guidance, and support for performance improvement strategies to improve the patient experience across the care continuum. Debbie currently sits as an active council member on The Beryl Institute’s Ambulatory Care Council.