​More in this series:

How Can You Build Quick Rapport with Patients?

How Do You Build a Shared Agenda with Patients?

How Can Providers Elicit Patient Perspectives and Respond with Empathy?

How Can the Teach-Back Method Improve Outcomes?

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How Can Providers Elicit Patient Perspectives and Respond with Empathy?

Calvin Chou, MD; Professor, UCSF School of Medicine

Have trouble viewing this video? Read the transcript.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
  • Discuss the importance of empathy and open communication in the patient-provider relationship.
  • Demonstrate how to make empathetic statements.
  • Explain how providers can elicit patient perspectives during a visit.
  • Demonstrate techniques to engage patients in open dialogue.

Description: In the middle of a visit, clinicians are usually deep in thought. But what’s going on in the mind of the patient? According to Calvin Chou, MD, exploring the patient’s perspective should be a key component of the clinical reasoning process. In this short video from the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare, you’ll learn to improve patient encounters by asking questions, displaying empathy, and encouraging open dialogue.

For more information on improving health care communication skills, visit The American Academy on Communication in Healthcare (AACH). Video produced by Click to Play Media and AACH.

Discussion Questions1:

  1. Why might the middle of an appointment, when the provider is in “thinking cap mode,” be a challenging time to practice patient-centered care?
  2. Do you agree that it’s important for clinicians to continually probe for and explore patient perspectives throughout a visit? Why or why not?
  3. Dr. Chou presented four aspects of the patient perspective of illness that the clinician should explore during the visit. Can you recall his list? What do you think of it?
  4. What does Dr. Chou mean by a “statement of empathy”? What does he do in the video to convey that he cares about the patient’s feelings?
  5. In your experience as a provider and/or as a patient, how important is it for the patient to feel a sense of empathy from the clinician?
  6. Have you ever changed a treatment recommendation as the result of an open dialogue with a patient? What happened?

1 Please keep patient privacy in mind.​​​

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