Clinical Communication Skills

Did you know that quality of communication with patients and families is the strongest independent predictor of readmissions? Improve patient outcomes and patient-clinician relationships through communication skills training.

Fewer than one-third (29%) of physicians report having any formal training in communication about goals of care, and nearly half (46%) report that they are unsure about what to say. Their anxiety about these conversations is rooted in the near total absence of communication skills training in our nation’s medical and nursing schools, as well as in graduate medical education programs. As a result, many Americans living with a serious illness receive inappropriate interventions, resulting in sub-optimal and costly health care.

To provide patient-centered care for people living with serious illness—and their families—clinicians must understand their hopes, fears, goals, and preferences. CAPC’s online Communication Skills unit provides clinicians from all disciplines with the techniques needed to discuss serious news and prognosis, have conversations about goals of care and advance care planning, and to facilitate decision making in family meetings.

The evidence is clear that these skills can be taught and retained, and that training results in measurably better quality of care, patient and family experience, and more time spent at home and out of hospitals.

For additional clinical communication skills training tools, visit the Communication Skills Pathfinder. Sponsored by CAPC, Ariadne Labs, and VitalTalk, the Pathfinder provides easily accessible training pathways. It will help you identify your communication training needs and options whether you want to improve your own skills, train others on communication skills, and/or lead system re-design aimed at standardizing high-quality conversations with patients living with serious illness.