Compassionate Communication

Building care provider-patient relationships takes time. With that in mind, we have provided links to resources that may give better insight into communication skills that can improve patient partnerships.

The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare

This links to the Schwartz Center’s current and past “Compassion in Action” webinars (from 2014 forward), sharing evidence-based knowledge to advance the understanding and delivery of “Compassionate, Collaborative Care – The Triple C.”  These excellent webinars teach some of the concepts and skills that are essential to providing compassionate, collaborative care in ways that matter to patients, families, and the people who care for them.

University of Texas at MD Anderson I*CARE Communication Education

This is a free CME video course that focuses on patient-doctor communication, which encompasses the fundamental principles in communication, managing difficult communication within oncology, and more. There are a variety of resources to help improve doctor communication skills.


This online resource was launched by a group of clinicians to help physicians and other healthcare professionals address difficult or serious topics with their patients. While VITALTalk offers fee-based courses to help clinicians hone their skills, it also offers short videos and one-page guides free of charge. The videos, which are 2-to-3 minute enactments with patients, cover such topics as tracking and responding to emotion, diffusing conflict, resetting goals of care, and bearing witness to the end. They also provide eight one-page guides offering suggested language for a range of situations, such as saying goodbye to a patient, addressing goals of care, and discussing prognosis.

Vital Talk Tips App

This newly-released pocket reference tool enables physicians, nurses, and other clinicians to improve their communication skills for patients who have a serious illness. It also sends you a daily notification to try a new tip as a way to build your “communication superpowers.”

Dr. Wendy Harpham’s “Other Side of the Stethoscope” Articles in Oncology Times

Wendy Harpham, M.D. and cancer survivor, has been writing articles and patient handouts from the perspective of both the physician and the survivor in Oncology Times monthly since 2001. Dr. Harpham is also the author of “Healing Hope”, “Happiness in a Storm” and “Only 10 Seconds to Care”, among other books related to cancer survivorship.

WSJ Article – The Experts: How to Improve Doctor-Patient Communication

This Wall Street Journal article is a great read, though it was published in 2013. It summarizes interviews with thought leaders on improving doctors-patient communication skills.

Center for Communication in Medicine

SpeakSooner™ ask questions now, live the answers program approaches the treatment and management of serious illness conversations that must begin with the patient. The Difficult Conversations Workbook and video helps patients understand and communicate their questions, concerns, and priorities so they can become more effective partners in their care. This is also a tool for healthcare providers.