The Importance of Communication in Health Care and Tips to Improve

A doctor interacts with an electronic device to digitally communicate with patients.

Technology is everywhere, and its use is only growing. 91.8% of the U.S. population uses the internet, according to the data aggregate site Statista. A 2021 study by Pew Research Center stated that 85% of Americans also own a smartphone — a dramatic rise from the 35% ownership Pew reported in 2011. The survey also noted that 15% of American adults exclusively use their smartphone to access the internet.

This increased use of tech also changed the way people consume health information and underscored the importance of communication in health care. Roughly 60% of Americans were granted online access to their health information in 2020, and nearly 40% of these individuals took advantage of this at least once, according to a  2020 report from Additionally, a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealed nearly one in four patients used telehealth services within a four week period between April and October of 2021.

As technology continues to flourish, health care professionals can leverage innovative communication degree online and strategies to become effective leaders in the field.

Why Is Communication in Health Care Important?

Effective communication can have a positive impact on the patient-provider dynamic in numerous ways. It can allow patients to be better educated about their own health, which could enable them to embrace proactive health and wellness strategies. It can also help patients develop a comprehensive understanding of current care strategies involving their health, including acute health situations.

Communication can also help develop a sense of trust between the patient and provider, which might make it easier for patients to adhere to a provider’s recommendations. These elements can lead to several key potential long-term benefits, such as reduced patient visits, reduced costs and improved patient outcomes.

The increased presence of technology makes effective communication even more important in health care. It can help mitigate the potential impact of health misinformation that could otherwise lead patients to make poor or improper decisions about their health. It can also help improve communication among other health care professionals who may need to coordinate care across multiple facilities. This can also lead to improved opportunities for delivering care.

Types of Communication in Health Care

Because technology constantly evolves, continuously strengthening communication is important for health care providers to meet patient expectations. In today’s modern landscape, there are several ways types of communication in health care that can help providers stay ahead of the curve.

Patient Portals Provide Access to Health Information

Health care facilities can develop patient portals, which allow patients to sign up and have confidential access to their individual health care information. Educational health information can be placed on the patient’s portal that is relevant to the patient’s specific health needs. Clinical summaries can be made accessible. These summaries can be a review of the patient’s last appointment or a summary of recent test results with explanations. The summaries can also include recommendations, such as the need for follow-up appointments.

Emailing Can Improve the Patient-Provider Connection

Health care providers, once wary of using email as a communication tool, are finding that email is actually saving them great amounts of time. Responding to patient emails during downtimes is much quicker than returning phone calls. Many emails contain basic questions that can be answered quickly, or emails can be used as reminders to send orders to other providers.

Medication requests can also easily be reviewed and addressed through emails, which are more time-saving than phone calls.

Texting Can Keep the Patient Informed

Text messaging can be an effective tool that allows health care professionals to immediately reach the patient with important information. Texting can be used to directly communicate appointment delays, prescription reminders and patient-portal messages. It can also help keep a patient’s portal information secure by being a key component of patient security measures, such as two-factor login authentication.

Social Media Can Reach a Large Audience

Social media is one of the least expensive ways to disseminate information to large numbers of people. General questions can be answered and information provided. Negative comments made on social media sites can be addressed, which can make a difference in the public opinion of your health care facility. It can also promote a facility’s health-related special events.

In times of public health crises, information can be shared that will give people the correct facts and guidance, which can help prevent the spread of misinformation and panic.

Apps and Websites Can Target Different People

Health care providers can use apps to communicate and target different groups of people. They may have a website with educational health information available for those who seek out information. Additionally, they may offer videos of real people to show how a treatment works.

Health care providers could develop an app that can remind people to engage in certain healthy behaviors, like exercising or checking their blood sugar. Digital forums can also allow patients with similar issues to provide each other with support. Live chat can also be offered to patients.

Become a Builder of Quality Care

Strong communication in health care is important. In today’s digital world, effectively communicating goes beyond enhancing the dynamic between the patient and provider, it can be a tool that transforms the quality of care, which can ultimately improve patient outcomes.

If you are thinking about going into the field of health care — or are just interested in learning more about communication — the online masters in Management program at USC Annenberg ​​School of Communication and Journalism can prepare you to build impactful communication strategies. Our program is designed to help you cultivate expertise in the tactics and strategies of clear and effective communication, which can be deftly applied to health care, business and more.

Discover how we can help advance your professional future, by enhancing your reputation for communicative excellence.


Recommended Readings

Crisis Communications: 2021 and Beyond

Disruptive Communication in Today’s Digital World

Why is Effective Communication Important to Career Success?



Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “Approach to Improving Patient Safety: Communication”, Individuals’ Access and Use of Patient Portals and Smartphone Health Apps, 2020

HIPAA Journal, Text Messaging in Healthcare

Journal of Medical Internet Research, “Social Media Use for Health Purposes: Systematic Review”

MedlinePlus, Communicating with Patients

MedlinePlus, Patient Portals - an Online Tool for Your Health

JMIR Medical Education, “Email Use Reconsidered in Health Professions Education: Viewpoint”

Pew Research Center, Mobile Fact Sheet

Statista, Internet Usage in the United States - Statistics & Facts

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Confronting Health Misinformation”

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “National Survey Trends in Telehealth Use in 2021: Disparities in Utilization and Audio vs. Video Services”