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Friday Aug 09, 2019

The secret to better communication with patients? Talk less

Patients tend to retain only a few key messages from their medical visits and can quickly become overloaded with information. In one study involving elderly patients, participants failed to recall 46 percent of the medications prescribed for them, and 52 percent of patients given lifestyle recommendations failed to recall them post-visit.1

The solution to information overload? Focus on just a few key things your patients need to know. A useful framework is “Ask-Me-3,” recommended by the National Patient Safety Foundation, which involves answering three questions at every visit, even if the patient doesn't explicitly ask them:

1. What is the main problem being treated?

2. What does the patient need to do about it?

3. Why is it important to do that?


1. Rost K, Roter D. Predictors of recall of medication regimens and recommendations for lifestyle change in elderly patients. Gerontologist. 1987;27(4):510-515.

Read the full FPM article: “How to Bridge the Health Literacy Gap.”

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Posted at 07:00AM Aug 09, 2019 by FPM Editors

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