Intensive Communication Skills
One of the key features of healthcare that patients value and remember is the communication performance of clinicians and healthcare team members. A growing literature documents the central role of communication in patient satisfaction. Effective communication between clinicians and patients promotes a variety of benefits including improved diagnostic accuracy, better health outcomes, improved treatment adherence, mutual satisfaction with medical encounters and decreased risk of malpractice lawsuits.
Clinician training traditionally focuses on the biomedical aspects of care. While this training is extensive and essential, it is often incomplete. Clinicians may learn ineffective communication habits early in their training, and may be unaware of their limitations until problems arise.
Awareness of patient communication problems may come as a result of poor patient satisfaction scores, complaints, comments from colleagues or support staff, or self-awareness that relationships with patients and colleagues could be better.
Growing focus on patient-centered medical homes and patient-centered care is creating new demands on providers to involve patients in ways that may be unfamiliar and uncomfortable for those trained in earlier models of care.
Despite widespread incidence of ineffective clinician-patient communication, there are few programs available to address this gap in intensive and meaningful ways. IHC’s Intensive Communication Skills Program is designed to provide practicing clinicians with specific guidance and focused practice using evidence-based communication skills that contribute to enhanced diagnostic accuracy, patient satisfaction, treatment adherence and professional job satisfaction.
Hospitals, medical practices and other organizations that employ clinicians typically do not have the capacity to conduct intensive communication skills training. Organizations invest in their clinicians in a variety of ways, and want clinicians to succeed. As difficult as it may be to initiate intensive communication skills training, it is far more difficult—and expensive—to replace professional staff. Administrators also recognize the potential liability risk and risk to reputation posed by clinicians with poor communication skills.
IHC’s Intensive Communication Skills Program has demonstrated practical results including substantial improvement in patient satisfaction scores. The program fosters a productive learning environment free of embarrassment, threat or shame. Regardless of skill level, learning new ways of communicating requires risk-taking. IHC’s Intensive Communication Skills Program is expressly designed to provide the necessary safety and support to allow clinicians to take these risks. This highly-rated educational program is of sufficient duration to allow extensive practice, coaching and self-reflection.Learners are provided with preparatory materials, an intensive 2.0-day residential workshop, and guidance on arranging follow-up coaching and feedback.
- Duration 2 Days
- Accreditation Approved for CE
- Available To Clinicians
- Course InformationDownload PDF
IHC’s Intensive Communication Skills Program is designed as an intensive training experience for practicing clinicians who seek to reconsider their approach to patient communication in the clinical setting. Participating clinicians may be self-referred or referred by their organization.
The program is intended expressly for professionals who provide patient care. Addressing provider issues such as psychiatric illness, substance abuse or clinician misconduct is beyond the scope of this workshop.
All IHC courses are predicated on best practices in clinician-patient communication and emphasize a standard large and small group learning format to provide peer observation, feedback and coaching.
This program is built on clinician engagement in four distinct areas: theories about communication, the value and ethical considerations of communication, the development of specific skills and techniques and the impact of personal history on the clinician’s responses to different clinician-patient relationships.
At the conclusion of this program, each clinician will be able to:
- Step into the patient role and describe the patient expectations, experience and perspectives in a variety of challenging interactions;
- Develop insight into how one’s own prior life experiences can influence communication behavior with patients;
- Recognize “hot button” situations that can negatively affect one’s own communication behaviors;
- Demonstrate appropriate and effective communication strategies in interactions with patients who push these “hot buttons”;
- Develop a core belief statement about what constitutes effective clinician-patient communication;
- Demonstrate enhanced performance of fundamental skills when communicating with patients; and
- Define the elements of effective feedback and apply these techniques to a coaching exercise.
For optimal learning and skills acquisition, we strongly recommend learners commit to complete the series of three training segments that make up the Intensive Communication Skills program. These encompass: (1) course readiness, (2) the Intensive Communication Skills workshop, and (3) coaching and feedback.
(1) Course Readiness: At least one month prior to the 2.0-day Intensive Communication Skills workshop, we provide articles that pertain to clinician-patient communication skills, ethical issues and the impact of personal history on the clinician’s communication skills. We also strongly recommend participants gather relevant data to assess their current clinician-patient communication skills. These may include patient satisfaction surveys, audio tapes of patient interviews or other such data that will be shared with the trainers during the course and, later, with their clinician coach. Course readiness is conducted at home and, for many participants, in coordination with the participant’s employer. Course readiness is an important element of this program that will make the 2.0-day workshop more valuable and targeted toward learners’ specific needs.
(2) Intensive Communication Skills workshop: The clinician attends a 2.0-day residential program conducted by highly trained faculty members drawn from medical school faculty, primary care and specialist physicians, psychologists, family therapists working in medical settings and psychiatrists. No more than 12 participants are enrolled in each workshop.
While there are some large group activities, most work is in small groups with three to four participants and one faculty member. Small group activities include practicing communication skills with standardized patients; receiving coaching from faculty and group members; reviewing videotapes of clinicians in a practice setting; and considering the impact of theories, values, and personal history on the development of habits and ways of being with patients.
(3) Coaching and feedback: At the conclusion of the 2.0-day workshop, we strongly recommend that each learner establish a 6- to 12-month plan to continue to develop his or her communication skills. Compelling evidence in the literature and IHC’s extensive experience point to the value of ongoing focused follow-up with a clinician coach. The clinician coach is a person who understands the clinical environment, identifies and can model the skills to be learned, and understands and values the coaching process. IHC maintains a list of experienced clinician coaches who have completed IHC’s Coaching Clinicians for Enhanced Performance course. Alternatively, the clinician can choose a clinician coach from local or other resources.
Please note: The cost for individualized coaching and feedback is not included in the workshop fee.
The Institute for Healthcare Communication, Inc. is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to sponsor continuing medical education for physicians. The Institute for Healthcare Communication takes responsibility for the content, quality, and scientific integrity of this CME activity. This workshop is designated by The Institute for Healthcare Communication, Inc. as a continuing medical education activity meeting the criteria for 19 hours in Category 1 of the Physician’s Recognition Award of the American Medical Association.