9 March 2020

Doctor-patient communication, a key success factor

A month ago I personally presented, together with Robert Dilts, an internationally renowned researcher, author and consultant, the first results of a study on success factors in the health ecosystem. The study was started in Italy in June 2019 and is conducted by me and Prof. Dilts with the Success Factor Modeling methodology that he himself developed and that for the first time in the world has been applied in the healthcare field.


What is the difference that makes the difference IN THE SUCCESS CASES IN the health system?

This is the question we started with with the aim of:

identify the key factors associated with successful performance in the various areas of the health ecosystem

map and organize the key success factors in a model

develop new assessment tools and suitable training courses to transmit to others those key success factors and allow their application

A month ago, during the Success Factor Modeling for Healthcare event, at the Center for American Studies, we presented the results of this first period of the study. We asked the various actors of the different areas of the health ecosystem (Clinics, Healthcare Professionals, Institutions, Universities and Schools of specialization, scientific societies, patients’ associations, patients and caregivers, assistance and health services organizations …) how they define the SUCCESS in the Health System asking them to think of real examples of success cases in their context, according to their perspective.

And the main success factors that have emerged concern the quality of communication with patients and the relationship between team members. In particular, the success, for the majority of the answers (58%), is when all the actors are involved, for 46% when the relationship and interaction between team members is very good and for 43% when doctor-patient communication is clear and effective.



In exploring the different levels of success factors, environment, actions, skills, values ​​and beliefs, identity and vision/purpose, the key actions that have contributed to determining success cases are: protocols to communicate and address key issues, strong interrelationship among professionals, prescriptions for responding to particular situations, involvement and collaboration, work routine or procedures.

Analyzing the level of skills and competencies, the most highlighted ones are communication skills (66%), problem solving skills (58%); on the level of values ​​and beliefs the success factors are identified in the skills and updating (65% of the answers) followed by the priority given to the patient (58%). The catalysts, i.e. the activators of change, were indicated in 49% of the answers in the identity level – sense of mission and belonging – followed by the connectors (47%), intended as the generators of energy and connection between people while, at the vision level, the most important factor is effectively overcoming challenges and difficulties (52%).

The summary, with the respective keywords, is represented in the SFM for Healthcare model we have created.


In light of what has happened and is happening in Italy (and in the world) due to Coronavirus, both about all that worked well in terms of efficiency in facing this emergency, assisting and healing and about all that DIDN’T work, especially regarding communication inside and outside which has obviously created panic among the population (and not only),

what would have been better or could be better with adequate training, time and dedicated resources to have and follow protocols to communicate and address key issues, co-create prescriptions for responding to particular situations?

I focused on these two points because they are aspects I heard touched in recent days in several interviews by doctors, journalists, Institutions representatives. But I believe that dwelling on each of these success factors we could have an important assessment of the strengths and weaknesses that have manifested in this situation of emergency caused by Coronavirus, of the new awareness that could be a good opportunity to correct what has not worked, reinforce what worked and improve something.

The study will continue in Italy with the reopening of the survey shortly and with the qualitative analysis of the success stories step and will start in 2020 in some other countries: France, Greece, Spain and Russia.

why this study?

Because we believe in comparison, sharing, constant growth.
We believe that helping to create a better world is possible.
And above all we believe that we can do it together.