Good Communication in Healthcare: 5 Tips to Sharpen Your Skills 

Good communication in healthcare is critical to building patient trust

Good communication in healthcare is crucial, especially when dealing with patients or their family members. 

For healthcare professionals, good communication skills aren’t only a helpful trait. They’re a core competency. Effective and timely communication builds trust among team members, patients, and care providers alike. 

Building good communication habits

Here are five simple tips to hone your communication skills in the healthcare workplace. 


Active listening is the most important part of communication. Allow your patients to share their thoughts and feelings without interruption, unless for clarification. This offers insights into their perspective, lifestyle, and beliefs while establishing rapport.  

When listening, be aware of your body language. Whether or not they’re aware of it, your nonverbal cues nevertheless speak volumes to your patient. Strong eye contact, appropriate nodding, and expressions of empathy signal “I hear you, I’m listening, and I care.” Conversely, letting your eyes wander around the room, checking your watch or phone, or dismissive noises tell your patient “I’m not interested in what you say.” 

Related: Cultural and Linguistic Competency for Physical Therapists, Updated

Take responsibility 

If you unintentionally miscommunicate, take responsibility for it. While no one enjoys admitting mistakes, this act of humility is a sign of a strong character, which only increases your credibility. 

Furthermore, if you said you are going to do something, then find you cannot do it, say so. Mistakes happen, and you can always learn from them. It’s hiding or lying about a mistake that is unacceptable. 

Be honest 

To speak honestly, you really need to provide all of the information you have. While abiding by HIPAA rules, don’t try to hide data when communicating with other healthcare professionals responsible for the patient’s plan of care. Rather, provide your colleagues with all the necessary information so they can do their jobs safely and appropriately. 

When in doubt, say it 

Healthcare is an evolving industry. New medical technologies hit the market almost daily. At some point, a diagnosis, drug, or technique will come up that you haven’t heard about. No one expects omniscience from healthcare professionals. In those situations, simply admit you’re unfamiliar with the term and be open to learn.  

Be objective 

Share data, not gossip. Work is no place for your private opinions about a patient, their family, doctor, nurse, or fellow therapist. The patient’s current status and functional outcomes are what matter. Be professional, objective, and use your clinical expertise when you share information.