Improving Communication with Vulnerable Patients

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<p>In an effort to address disparities, health care organizations are trying new ways to communicate effectively across different cultures, languages, and health literacy levels. As many health professionals and administrators know firsthand, poor communication in medical settings can lead to misdiagnoses, under-treatment, and emotional distress for patients and family members.<br><br>In a new Fund report, "<a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=23764&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D397067%26%23doc397067">Promising Practices for Patient-Centered Communication with Vulnerable Populations: Examples from Eight Hospitals</a>," Matthew Wynia, M.D., M.P.H., and Jennifer Matiasek, of the American Medical Association's Institute for Ethics, identify hospitals with a demonstrated commitment to communicating with their vulnerable patients. Through site visits and focus group discussions, the authors draw out nine "promising practices" used by the selected hospitals.<br><br>These practices include: having passionate champions of communication programs; collecting information on patient needs; engaging communities, by working with a community advisory board, for example; and developing a diverse and skilled workforce. Hospital and health system leaders can use these practices as starting points to encourage patient-centered communication in their own organizations.</p>