Performance Problem: Communication with Doctors

AHRQ Resources on Communication

The following interventions suggest ways to improve the level and quality of communication between clinicians and their patients. These strategies all share a common purpose, which is to help health plans and medical groups do a better job of listening to members and patients, explaining things clearly, and supporting members and patients in their efforts to participate in and manage their care.

By taking steps to improve communication between clinicians and patients, health care organizations help to create better relationships and better-informed patients who have a good understanding of both their conditions and appropriate treatment options. Empiric evidence suggests that these interventions are associated with many desirable outcomes, including reduced postoperative pain and hospital stays, improved functional and physiologic outcomes, improved patient satisfaction, and better adherence to medical care.[1] Additionally, agreement between patient and physician about the nature of a health problem and the course of treatment appears to increase the likelihood of a successful health outcome.[2]

The last two ideas in this list are important elements of a more comprehensive strategy known as the Chronic Care Model.


[1] Maly RC, Bourque LB, Engelhardt RF. A randomized controlled trial of facilitating information giving to patients with chronic medical conditions: effects on outcomes of care. J Fam Pract 1999;48(5): 356-63.
[2] Stewart MA. Effective physician-patient communication and health outcomes: a review. Cmaj 1995;152(9): 1423-33.