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Patient-centered Communications Fact Sheet

  • Effective communication is critical to successful delivery of health care services.
  • The Joint Commission supports efforts to improve communication between health care professionals and patients.


Based on analysis of recent Census Bureau data for 2018, the Center for Immigration Studies found that 67.3 million residents in the U.S. now speak a language other than English at home, a number equal to the entire population of France. The number has nearly tripled since 1980, and more than doubled since 1990.

LEP patients are at a higher risk for adverse events than English-proficient patients. Language barriers significantly impact safe and effective health care. The Joint Commission recommends an approach to communicating health information that encompasses language needs, individual understanding, and cultural and other communication issues.


The Joint Commission’s Health Equity web portal provides extensive information and resources about patient-centered communications, including:

  • Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals
  • Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Community: A Field Guide
  • R3 Report: Patient-Centered Communication Standards for Hospitals — Provides the rationale and references that The Joint Commission employed in developing the patient-centered communication standards for hospitals. The standards address qualifications for language interpreters and translators; how to identify and address patient communication needs and collect patient race and ethnicity data; and ways to ensure patient access to a support individual and non-discrimination in care.
  • Standards FAQs: Addressing the collection of patient race, ethnicity, and preferred language data; bilingual providers as interpreters; and practitioners communicating directly with patients. standards have supported the provision of care, treatment, and services in a manner that is sensitive and responsive to individual patient needs for many years.
  • Video: Promoting Health Equity and Patient-Centered Care: Joint Commission Standards and Resources
  • Speak Up™ campaigns: Speak Up™ is a free, national patient safety campaign from The Joint Commission that urges patients to take a role in preventing health care errors by becoming active, involved and informed participants on the care team. Some campaigns that specifically address patient advocacy are:
    • Speak Up Against Discrimination
    • Speak Up For Your Rights
    • Speak Up At the Doctor’s Office