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Communicating with patients and colleagues

Effective clinical communication is two-way (or multi-way if between teams), structured and continuous communication that results in timely, accurate and appropriate transfer of information.

For communication to be effective it needs to be tailored, open, honest, and respectful, with opportunities for clarification and feedback.


Patient – clinician communication

Patient-clinician communication focuses on communication between patients and clinicians across the patient journey. It uses a person-centred approach to improve communication by enhancing the patients’ role in clinical communication, decision making, advocacy and self-determination, to facilitate safety and quality outcomes.

The Commission funded two research projects to better understand the evidence on patient-clinician communication and identify existing strategies, tools and resources to enable patient engagement in communication. Resources developed to support patient-clinician communication at transitions of care were informed by the findings of these projects. The Commission’s work in patient-clinician communication aims to ensure that effective, reliable and appropriate use of communication occurs between patients, carers, community health services and clinicians. 

Resources for patient-clinician communication

Communicating and collaborating with colleagues

Effective clinical communication, collaboration and teamwork are widely recognised as key factors in providing safe, coordinated and comprehensive care. They are essential to ensuring that a person receives continuous and coordinated care and enable groups to work together to navigate competing priorities, overcome issues that are associated with human factors and reduce the risk of error. 

The Commission undertook a scoping study to improve understanding of how Australian health services support clinical communication, collaboration and teamwork. Findings suggest that for healthcare providers to acquire and develop communication, collaboration and teamwork skills, training and assessment should focus on the core competencies of teamwork and effective communication, relevant to the clinical setting that the healthcare provider is practicing within. The paper also identified a broad range of programs, training, tools and guidance on communication, collaboration and teamwork delivered in Australia.

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