Clinician-Patient Communication Skills


“There are few people in North America who better understand the complex dynamics of clinical care and the importance of effective communication than Diane Rawlins at InsideOut Consulting.  

In a healthcare system that is highly fragmented and struggling to find its way, and a public demanding care that is not only technically competent but also based on empathic, caring relationships, Diane offers coaching solutions that bridge the divide by teaching clinicians the value of listening and the use of the self as a therapeutic agent without adding additional time to visits.”   

Rich Frankel Ph.D., Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Director, Walther Center for Research and Education in Palliative Care, IU/Simon Cancer Center  




The average American physician will conduct between 140,000 – 160,000 medical interviews in a practice lifetime making the interview the most frequently performed medical procedure.  Effective communication in encounters between clinicians and patients has been at the center of medical care for millennia. However, it is only in the past 50 years that communication scholars have produced solid scientific evidence that good communication has a positive impact on a range of factors including:

•  Functional and biomedical health outcomes
  Patient satisfaction
  Clinician satisfaction
•  Patient adherence to treatment
•  Improved patient safety and quality
  Reduction in malpractice risk

It has been our privilege to help many clinicians measurably improve their ability to communicate clearly, empathically and efficiently with their patients using principles derived from an approach called, “The Four Habits Model.” Developed by researchers and educators at Kaiser Permanente, Harvard Medical School and Indiana University School of Medicine, the approach has been used to train and assess more than 10,000 physicians with evidence of its positive impact on patient satisfaction.

We offer one on one coaching for clinicians who wish to improve their individual communication skills using direct field observation to focus attention on specific moments in clinical encounters that offer opportunities for skills improvement.  Coaching is based on principles of learner centered learning which starts with the coach and clinician jointly identifying areas of interest for improvement and co-creating goals and a skills portfolio to track and assess progress.


Sample References for Clinician-Patient Communication Skills

1.  Bofelli T, Thongvanh K, Evans S, Ahrens C. Patient Experience and Physician Productivity:  Debunking the Mythic Divide at HealthPartners Clinics. The Permanente Journal. Fall 2012; 16(4):19-25.
2.  Flocke SA, Miller WL, Crabtree BF. Relationships between physician practice style, patient satisfaction, and attributes of primary care. The Journal of family practice. Oct 2002;51(10):835-840
3.  Hall JA, Blanch-Hartigan D, Roter DL. Patients’ satisfaction with male versus female physicians: a meta-analysis. Medical care. Jul 2011;49(7):611-617.
4.  Haskard Zolnierek K, DiMatteo M. Physician Communication and Patient Adherence to Treatment: A Meta-Analysis. Medical Care. Aug 2009;47(8):826-834
5.  Krupat E, Hsu J, Irish J, Schmittdiel JA, Selby J. Matching patients and practitioners based on beliefs about care: results of a randomized controlled trial. The American journal of managed care. Nov 2004;10(11 Pt 1):814-822.
6.  Safran DG, Karp M, Coltin K, et al. Measuring patients’ experiences with individual primary care physicians. Results of a statewide demonstration project. Journal of general internal medicine. Jan 2006;21(1):13-21.
7.  Rao JK, Anderson LA, Inui TS, Frankel RM. Communication interventions make a difference in conversations between physicians and patients: a systematic review of the evidence. Medical care. Apr 2007;45(4):340-349.
8.  Stein T, Frankel RM, Krupat E. Enhancing clinician communication skills in a large healthcare organization: a longitudinal case study. Patient education and counseling. Jul 2005;58(1):4-12.