Communicating Clearly

What does it mean to communicate clearly? 

Clear, timely and honest communication between you and your health care provider is a critical aspect of quality health care. Asking questions about what you need to do and where to go for more information can help you manage your care, make fewer mistakes and protect your health. 

Clear communication is a skill that you can always improve - and improved communication can benefit many areas of your life, not just health care. If you have had problems in the past with understanding what you needed to do or where to go if you had questions, these resources can help you prepare for doctor's office visits, make sure you understand what you need to do, and ensure you have enough time to talk to your provide about your questions and concerns. If you already have strong communication with your health care providers, you can learn ways to make those relationships even better. 

You play an important role in getting quality health care and MNHealthScores can help. Clear communication is a central part of having better, more positive patient experiences. MNHealthScores resources and information can help you build strong, positive relationships with your health care providers by giving you information on:

  • What questions to ask your health care provider, and when to ask them
  • How to compare the care you receive
  • How to use performance ratings to find high quality care

Signs of clear communication with a health care provider

  • Things are explained in ways that are easy to understand
  • Your provider listens carefully to what you say, and you feel respected
  • You feel your provider spends enough time with you

Your role in clear communication 

Have you ever forgotten what you wanted to discuss during your doctor's visit, or what you needed to do after your appointment? Have you felt rushed during your visit or run out of time to ask your questions? A few simple steps can help you avoid these common communication problems: plan your conversations, make sure you are heard, and schedule enough time with your provider. 

Links to resources about clear communication

  • Print off the fact sheet, “How patients can communicate better with providers” for specific ideas on how you and your health care provider communicate more effectively.
  • Review our patient experience ratings to compare clinics. Our patient experience report includes ratings in four different categories and allows you to search by medical specialty.
  • Visit our resource sections for depression and diabetes/vascular care for specific tools and information to support collaborative care and effective communication for these conditions. 
  • Read Jennifer's story, about how an unexpected heart attack at age 37 reminded a St. Paul woman of her family history of heart disease and high cholesterol. Thanks to effective communication with her providers about her care and treatment, she is back to running marathons.