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Patient-Centered Communication

Effective, patient-centered communication is key to quality care. Good communication is both an ethical imperative, necessary for informed consent and effective patient engagement, and a means to avoid errors, improve quality, save money and achieve better health outcomes.

In addition, patient-centered communication is ethically important because of the glaring disparities in the quality of care received by some patient populations in the US. One reason for these disparities is that certain populations face significant communication barriers.  As a result, improving communication might help alleviate health disparities. (More information on ethics and health disparities is available, as is information about other AMA initiatives related to disparities.)

Communication Climate Assessment Toolkit (C-CAT)

Working with trained consultants, organizations can now use the Communication Climate Assessment Toolkit (C-CAT) to evaluate organizational performance in the area of communication. Assessment results provide a reliable means of tracking performance over time and guiding decisions about tailored quality improvement interventions. More information, or contact:

The Ethical Force Program®
330 N. Wabash
Chicago, Ill. 60611
Phone: (312) 464-5260

Background Information and Documents

Initiative goals
The goals set for the Ethical Force's Patient-Centered Communication Initiative.

Patient centered communication framework
Conceptual framework for assessing patient-centered communication in health care organizations.

Improving Communication – Improving Care: Communication consensus report
Information and guidance to help health care organizations promote effective, patient-centered communication.

Hospital recognition project
A joint project of the AMA and AHA to recognize and learn from 8 hospitals leading the development of innovative approaches to improve patient-centered communication. This project was funded by The Commonwealth Fund and resulted in a widely-used report on how to improve communication in hospitals.

A second report from this project, focusing on how these 8 leading hospitals are addressing dilemmas related to the informed consent process, was published in the Joint Commission Journal of Health Care Quality and Safety.

Toolkit field testing
In phase I, eight hospitals and eight physician group practices were asked to field test the organizational assessment toolkit for patient-centered communication. In phase II, a targeted number of sites tested the toolkit in two rounds, using results of the first assessment to direct Quality Improvement intervention.

Expert advisory panel
Ethical Force Program's expert advisory panel for the Patient-Centered Communication Initiative.