Friday, January 18, 2008

Surgeon General's Workshop on Improving Health Literacy

Surgeon General's Workshop on Improving Health Literacy: "Improving the Communication Skills of Health Care Providers

A representative from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) raised the issue of changing the communication practices of healthcare providers, noting that good communication practices need to be introduced in provider education and training. An audience member from the American Medical Association (AMA) echoed these concerns and announced that the AMA would be launching an initiative linking health communication and patient safety. Dr. Schillinger pointed out that nursing, medical, and pharmacy students are very receptive to learning these skills, but noted that skills training needs to continue into the residency phase/clinical context. The positive effects of communication skills training can be displaced by the demands of residency. He commented that medical student associations can often drive curricular change, making them excellent points of intervention.

Dr. Pignone noted that system changes such as team-based care, information technology infrastructure, and reimbursement practices can also improve patient-provider communication."

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