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Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

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Healthcare Communications

Health communication is the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual decisions that enhance health. It is the verbal and written information that health care professionals give to patients to ensure they can:

  • Navigate the health care system
  • Fill out forms
  • Make appointments
  • Understand their health and health conditions and being able to manage them
  • Prevent disease or complications from disease
  • Make healthy decisions

These pages provide information and resources for improving health communication. Health Communication is one of the focus areas identified in Healthy People 2020 Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov. (HP 2020). Healthy People provides science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. The goals of HP 2020 are to increase quality and years of healthy life and to eliminate health disparities among different segments of the population.

Healthy people objectives encourage health care workers to:

  • Provide patients with easy to understand instructions (e.g. how to take care of their illness or health condition)
  • Provide enough time for patients to express and share their concers and to listen carefully to patients when they are speaking.
  • Include patients in decision making and care plan development.
  • Offer help to patients when filling out forms or performing tasks they may not have done before (e.g. scheduling appointments, making a referral, going to the lab for bloodwork)
  • Recommend quality health information resources (e.g. websites with health education, patient handouts, educational videos related to their health condition)
  • Engage patients to access to the Personal Health Record
  • Communicate with patients through their preferred communication method (phone, mail, secure messaging)