How Better Communication Can Reduce Physician Burnout and Improve Patient Satisfaction

New book reveals Cleveland Clinic’s groundbreaking model

“Even the most outstanding clinicians tend to overrate their own communication skills,” says Adrienne Boissy, MD, MA, a staff neurologist and Chief Experience Officer at Cleveland Clinic.

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Adrienne Boissy, MD, MA

Yet good communication with patients and healthcare colleagues can be a matter of life and death. Decades of evidence show communication’s impact on safety, quality, engagement, outcomes and satisfaction — for both patients and physicians.

That’s what drove Dr. Boissy and a team at Cleveland Clinic to develop a comprehensive program to strengthen physician communication skills. To date, they have trained thousands of staff physicians and have seen statistically significant improvement in physician burnout, empathy and patient satisfaction.


Timothy Gilligan, MD, MS

Now, you can learn the same skills — as well as how to implement them in your organization — in a new book, Communication the Cleveland Clinic Way, edited by Dr. Boissy and Timothy Gilligan, MD, MS, a medical oncologist and Director of Coaching at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Excellence in Healthcare Communication.

The value of relationship-centered communication

Cleveland Clinic’s foundational communication model is called R.E.D.E. (pronounced “ready”), which stands for Relationship: Establishment, Development and Engagement.

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Rather than a provider-centered or patient-centered approach, R.E.D.E. is relationship-centered. It’s based on the premise that relationships are therapeutic in and of themselves and, thus, a vital medium of care.

“Both physicians and patients have a more positive experience during more relational interactions,” says Dr. Boissy. “Research shows that relationships are the ‘game changer,’ leading to more effective and efficient healthcare.”

Cleveland Clinic’s R.E.D.E. model is a clear, logical framework that helps physicians enact empirically validated relationship-centered communication skills.

How to make your organization relationship-centered

Communication the Cleveland Clinic Way is your blueprint for establishing a relationship-centered communication program that will improve patient experience, reinvigorate physicians’ passion for their work and elevate your organization.

According to David Feinberg, MD, MBA, President and CEO of Geisinger Health System, it’s “an incredible how-to care guide. This book is really a journey that reveals the pitfalls and pearls of such a monumental undertaking and why every health system needs to do the same.”

In Communication the Cleveland Clinic Way, you will learn how to:

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  • Use the R.E.D.E. model in daily interactions — including common conversations that haunt physicians (e.g., responding to unrealistic expectations, breaking bad news, dealing with strong emotions)
  • Develop an effective program to instill R.E.D.E. skills in all of your organization’s healthcare providers, from veteran physicians to trainees
  • Adapt R.E.D.E. skills for individual peer coaching
  • Heed communication do’s and don’ts, such as banning certain words from your vocabulary

“In a time when many are increasingly disconnected from the people we serve, and maybe even each other, Communication the Cleveland Clinic Way pushes the boundaries of empathy for patients and their loved ones,” says Dr. Boissy. “It also challenges readers to demonstrate those very skills to their own people as they establish relationship-centered communication protocols in their organization.”

A must-read for every clinical provider

“Communicating effectively with patients is not an innate skill,” writes James Merlino, MD, President and Chief Medical Officer, Strategic Consulting Division, Press Ganey.

Dr. Merlino, former Cleveland Clinic Chief Experience Officer, calls Communicating the Cleveland Clinic Way a “comprehensive road map created by a group of physicians who set out to transform the doctor-patient relationship and build the new gold standard for relationship-centered care. It is a must-read for every clinical provider.”

About the “Cleveland Clinic Way”

Communication the Cleveland Clinic Way was published by McGraw-Hill Education as part of the Cleveland Clinic Way series. Other books in the series include:

Also in development is IT the Cleveland Clinic Way by C. Martin Harris, MD, MBA, Chief Information Officer at Cleveland Clinic.

Books in the Cleveland Clinic Way series are available for purchase in print or eBook at or wherever books are sold.