The patient communication tool revolutionising GP visits

A consultation with a GP should be about more than picking up a prescription.

Communicate better with your doc

Having a consultation with a GP isn’t just about improving your health; it is also a chance to understand what is happening to your body and the role you can play in your own health care.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. Questions can go unasked, answers can go unheard, misunderstood or misremembered.

A recent review of several studies has shown that using a teach-back communication tool can develop better health knowledge and self-care abilities among patients with chronic diseases.

The teach-back method involves a healthcare provider asking a patient to explain, in their own words, what they have just been told. The GP will then work with the patient to clarify any misunderstandings.

Teach-back can help safeguard both patients and healthcare professionals from misunderstandings and missed information during a consultation.

Dr Alison Beauchamp, a Senior Research Fellow in Deakin’s Centre for Population Health Research, has received a fellowship to introduce the ‘teach-back’ approach to patient education in Victorian hospitals.

“This is a structured form of communication aimed at improving health literacy for patients with chronic conditions. Teach-back is shown in other settings to reduce hospital readmissions,” she said.

“As part of teach-back, the patient is asked to describe in their own words what the clinician has told them so they can show the information is clearly understood.”

During her two-year fellowship, Dr Beauchamp will work with nurses to embed the teach-back system as part of their normal processes of patient education.

“We want to find the easiest and best approach to train clinicians in any healthcare setting – whether that’s hospitals, general practice or community health centres,” she said.

“The training has huge benefits for clinicians because it uncovers a lot of the assumptions they might make about how they impart information.”


    This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    9th Jul 2018
    How will this be done in a standard Medicare fifteen minute consult? You can barely get into the GP's chair, explain your symptoms, have an exam, get a script written within that time as it is. So you make a long appointment, but that's still not enough time to do all this backwards and forwards discussion. Great idea but no possible under the current restriction in primary health care. Meh!
    9th Jul 2018
    Some new GP's can be hard to understand,more Australian need to be trained as doctors.
    9th Jul 2018
    This is very unclear about what actually happens?

    I am in favor of a system that allows a patient to express themselves in an email report, about what is wrong with them. This would be prior to an appointment.

    When a person is sick and in pain, a lot of important detail can be missed, because it is hard to express things verbally on the spot.
    9th Jul 2018
    Try to take someone to appts with you. 4 ears are better than 2. 2 people asking questions is good too.

    Tags: health, medicare, gp,

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