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How Do You Build a Shared Agenda with Patients?

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:
  • Explain how creating a shared agenda with patients can improve communication and efficiency.
  • Practice eliciting patient concerns and building a structured shared agenda for a patient’s visit.

Description: As a provider, “Oh, by the way, I’ve got chest pain,” is the last thing you want to hear when you’re halfway out the door toward your next appointment. To avoid this frustrating (and inefficient) situation, a short video from The American Academy on Communication in Healthcare featuring Dr. Calvin Chou demonstrates how providers can elicit all patient concerns upfront, at the beginning of the visit, and use what they learn to build a shared agenda.

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. Dr. Chou says hearing patient concerns for the first time at the end of an appointment is “one of the things that really hassles providers.” Why is this such a problem?
  2. What do you see as the potential challenges and potential benefits of building a shared agenda at the beginning of a patient appointment? 
  3. Have you ever built a shared agenda with a patient? How did it go? Have you ever applied the same technique in another aspect of life?
  4. Role play: One of you is the patient, and one of you is the provider. Create a list of the items you’d like to talk about today. Practice eliciting the other person’s list and using it to build a shared agenda for the appointment. Switch roles, and then reflect on the experience.
1 Please keep patient privacy in mind.
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