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Toolkit: Communication Skills

Below please find some helpful tips and guidelines regarding communication with patients and providers:

General Communication Skills


- Communication Skills for Pharmacists

Communication Skills for Pharmacists (3rd ed) by Bruce A. Berger discusses relationship development, conflict management, counseling sensitivity, and other topics for interacting with patients, caregivers, and physicians.

Berger BA. Communication skills for pharmacists. 3rd ed. Washington DC:  American Pharmacists Association; 2009.

Here is a link to purchase this text



- Communication Skills in Pharmacy Practice  

Communication Skills in Pharmacy Practice discusses the basics of pharmacist and pharm-tech communication including verbal and non-verbal communication, as well as listening and overcoming barriers.  It is unique in that it contains sample dialogue scenarios. 

Beardsley RS, Kimberlin CL, Tindall WN. Communication skills in pharmacy practice: a practical guide for students and practitioners. 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012.

Click here to view this text.


- Writing, Speaking, & Communication Skills for Health Professionals

Writing, Speaking & Communication Skills for Health covers communication for business, practice, teaching, and meetings – reading, writing, and speaking.

Barnard S, Hughes KT, St. James D. Writing, speaking, & communication skills for health professionals. New Haven: Yale University Press; 2001.
Use this link for purchase.


Communications with Prescribers


- Enhancing Physician Communication

The following link, from APhA, is a quick-read about enhancing communication with physicians.

View this link here.

- Sample Letters to a Prescriber

Here are sample letters to a physician or other health care provider for MTM services. The template may be useful in introducing your services to promote better collaboration as well as informing of how and why you are communicating recommendations and updates on a patient. 

View the letter here.

View another sample here.


- Sample Fax to Prescriber

This is  a sample recommendation communication template to communicate pharmacotherapy recommendations to a physician or other health care provider.  The form can be faxed or mailed as applicable to the services provided. The form provides sufficient detail to justify drug therapy changes in a user friendly one-page format. 

View the fax here. 


Communications with Patients

- Motivational Interviewing in Health Care: Helping Patients Change Behavior

Written specifically for health care professionals, this concise book presents tools to enhance communication with patients and guide them in making choices to improve their health, from weight loss, exercise, and smoking cessation, to medication adherence and safer sex practices. Engaging dialogues and vignettes bring to life the core skills of motivational interviewing (MI) and show how to incorporate this brief evidence-based approach into any health care setting.

Rollnick S, Miller WR, Butler C. Motivational interviewing in health care: helping patients change behavior. New York: Guilford Press, 2008. 

View this link here


-Motivational Interviewing Techniques

This article, published in the Australian Family Physician, explores the role of motivational interviewing in facilitating patient behavior change in the general practice setting.

Hall K. Gibbie T, Lubman DI. Motivational interviewing techniques - facilitating behaviour change in the general practice setting. Aust Fam Physician 2012;41(9):660-7.

View this article here


- CE Programs on Patient Communications

NCPA Online:

This link is an online CE program, from NCPA, that details how to communicate with patients who have mental illnesses.  It gives great examples and suggestions. 

To view this CE program click here.


Pharmacists Letter

Pharmacist’s Letter has a CE entitled Enhancing Patient Counseling with Effective Communication Skills that is a useful primer on enhancing patient communication. (Subscription required)

To view this program click here.


- Additional Resources on Patient Communications

The following PDF, from ASHP, discusses was to delineate specific procedures for conducting a patient education encounter.

View this PDF here.


The following PDF, from ASHP, discusses guidelines for answering drug information questions in medication therapy management and patient care practice areas.  It outlines a great step-by-step process. 

View this PDF here.


The following link includes a document, published by ASCP, which includes guidelines for counseling geriatric patients.

View this document here.


- Sample Letters to a Patient:

Here is a sample letter to a patient about the availability and benefits of a medication management consultation.

View the sample letter here.


Health Literacy

- AHRQ Pharmacy Health Literacy Center

This site provides pharmacists with recently released health literacy tools and other resources from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Click here to access this link.

- CDC Basic Information

The following link from the CDC provides basic information about health literacy.

Click here to access this link


- Health Literacy in Older Adults

The following link provides information about Health Literacy in Older Adults with hearing loss/impairment.
Click here to access this link


- Advancing Pharmacy Health Literacy Practices Through Quality Improvement

Advancing Pharmacy Health Literacy Practices Through Quality Improvement is a set of modules to help pharmacy faculty integrate health literacy and health literacy quality improvement into courses, experiential education, and projects for PharmD students and pharmacy residents. This may also be useful when training pharmacy staff regarding health literacy.

Click here to access this link.


- Video from the American Medical Association

The following link is a short video on youtube from the American Medical Association (AMA) on the impact of health literacy on patient care.

Click here to access the video


- Always Use Teach-back! Training Toolkit

The purpose of this toolkit is to help all health care providers learn to use teach-back—every time it is indicated—to support patients and families throughout the care continuum, especially during transitions between health care settings.  The toolkit combines health literacy principles of plain language and using teach-back to confirm understanding, with behavior change principles of coaching to new habits and adapting systems to promote consistent use of key practices.

Please click here for this toolkit.


- CDC’s Clear Communication Index (CCI)

The Index is a resource to help you develop and assess public communication materials that enhance and aid people's understanding of information.

Please click here to access the index.


- AHRQ’s Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT)

This tool is an Instrument To Assess the Understandability and Actionability of Print and Audiovisual Patient Education Materials

Please click here to access this tool.

CMS Rules for Correspondence (Patient, Provider, etc)

For communication for MTM under Part D plans please see these guidelines.

A link to which can be found here.

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