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Ask Me 3

Clear communication is the foundation for patients to be able to understand and act on health information. The IHS is promoting Ask Me 3 developed by the Partnership for Clear Health Communication. Ask Me 3 is a quick, effective tool designed to improve health communication between patients and providers. Developed by leading health literacy experts, Ask Me 3 promotes three simple but essential questions that patients should ask their providers in every health care interaction. Providers should always encourage their patients to understand the answers to:

  1. What is my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?

Using these techniques can improve patient participation in the treatment plan.

What Can Providers do? Health literacy is essential for good patient care and positive health outcomes.

  • Give patients the answers to their 3 questions
  • Along with encouraging your patients to use the Ask Me 3 approach, simple techniques can increase your patients' comfort level with asking questions.
  • Create a safe environment where patients feel comfortable talking openly with you
  • Use plain language instead of technical language or medical jargon
  • Sit down (instead of standing) to achieve eye level with your patient
  • Use visual models to illustrate a procedure or condition
  • Ask patients to "teach back" the care instructions you give to them
  • Provide patients with information about the Ask Me 3 program

Download the IHS version of the Ask Me 3 Posters [PDF - 1.6 MB]

Download the IHS version of the Ask Me 3 Brochure [PDF - 2 MB]