Written by: Center for Care Innovations

Effective clinician-patient communication is a crucial factor in both the patient experience and clinical quality of care.

In 2016, the Center for Care Innovations (CCI) engaged 20 primary care clinicians from 8 primary care clinics in California and Hawaii to test and implement the Four Habits model of effective patient communication. Expert faculty Richard Frankel, PhD, taught the Four Habits model of empathic communication. The program, called The New Agenda, was supported by the Blue Shield of California Foundation with additional funding from Kaiser Permanente.

The goal of the Four Habits model is “shared presence,” where the care encounter itself facilitates healing through a connection that includes trust and respect between the patient and the clinician. The Four Habits consist of the four stages of a clinician encounter from beginning to end:

Habit 1: Invest in the beginning

Habit 2: Elicit the patient’s perspective

Habit 3: Demonstrate empathy

Habit 4: Invest in the end

Each habit contains a number of specific observable actions and skills, which New Agenda clinicians tested and implemented in patient visits to learn what works best for them and their patients.

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