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Ask Berwick: How can I improve communication with my patients?

By IHI Open School | Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This week, Dr. Don Berwick answers a student's question about a skill that caregivers use every day: "Can you give me one tip on how I can communicate with my patients?"

Berwick, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow at IHI and Former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, answers one of your questions every week in our new blog series, “Ask Berwick.” You can catch up on previous "Ask Berwick" Q&A's here.

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In his answer, Dr. Berwick talks about the importance of individualizing communication for each patient. In an article titled "What ‘Patient-Centered’ Should Mean: Confessions Of An Extremist" that Dr. Berwick wrote for Health Affairs, he dives into further detail on how caregivers can treat patients more as individuals, and less as a part of a system.

"For better or worse, I have come to believe that we—patients, families, clinicians, and the health care system as a whole—would all be far better off if we professionals recalibrated our work such that we behaved with patients and families not as hosts in the care system, but as guests in their lives." You can read the full article here.

Make sure to check back next week, when Dr. Berwick answers a question submitted via Twitter by @K_Ensor on how medical students can drive improvement, no matter what role they're in.

Do you have a question? Join the conversation and "Ask Berwick." Tweet @IHIOpenSchool using #AskBerwick, email openschool@ihi.org, or comment on Facebook.


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