A Message from Atul Gawande: Improving Communication Skills Means Improving Care

By Atul Gawande
(Adapted from video recorded March 28, 2018)

Hi. I’m Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public health researcher, and I want to thank you for visiting the Communications Skills Pathfinder Portal. You’re here because you have recognized, as I did, the importance of learning how to better communicate with your patients facing serious illness.

Three leading health care organizations came together to establish the Communication Skills Pathfinder: Vital Talk; my team at Ariadne Labs; and the Center to Advance Palliative Care. Through this one-door portal, you will benefit from the most effective, evidence-based models of patient-centered communication skills training:

  • Vital Talk’s intensive training geared to clinicians and faculty development
  • CAPC’s CME curriculum with online courses and designation status
  • And Ariadne Labs Serious Illness Conversation Guide which helps clinicians have meaningful conversations about what matters most to patients


Care Transformation Through Communication Skills Training and Systems Change

By Tony Back, MD, Erik Fromme, MD, Diane Meier, MD

For people with serious illness, high-quality communication skills are essential to high-quality health care delivery. Why? Because good communication is the root of care quality—and the basis for helping patients achieve their most important goals.

Although some clinicians think they know how to communicate, patients don’t agree. In fact, research shows that while patients expect clinicians to be skilled in initiating conversations about care goals, the vast majority of physicians, nurses, and other clinicians have had little training in communication, and are unsure of what to say to seriously ill patients.

And while most physicians agree goals of care matter, 71% don’t routinely ask about such goals and 24% don’t have a place in the EHR for such information.