Guide for Effective Communication in Health Care

The Guide for Effective Communication in Health Care was created for patients, families, caregivers, all members of the health care team, administrators, and support staff.  It provides information, resources, and tools to help improve communication in medical settings. This health care guide can help hospitals, facilities, and private offices follow federal, state and local laws, regulations, and health care standards, and allow patients to ask for and get the services they need.

What is Effective Communication?

When information between two or more people is shared or exchanged and each person is able to fully understand and make decisions based on that information, effective communication has been accomplished. This process often requires going back and forth with questions and answers until everyone has a clear understanding.  

Patients must be able to communicate with their doctors, nurses, and other members of their health care team. Providers must communicate clearly with their patients so they can diagnose, care for, and treat them in the best and safest way possible.  However, communication between patients and providers is not always effective.  To help remedy the situation, it is strongly recommended that patients and providers use the Communication Access Plan (CAP) and include it in the patient’s medical record.

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Communication Access Plan (CAP)

Download the Complete Guide
Includes CAP plus both Patient and Provider Guides

The Authors

HLAA Members Toni Iacolucci and Jody Prysock developed the Guide for Effective Communication in Health Care.

Toni Iacolucci is an advocate for people with hearing loss, a former member of the HLAA Board of Trustees, and ex officio member of the HLAA New York City Board of Directors. Her previous career as a social work administrator in New York City has made her aware of the challenges for people whose needs have been marginalized.  Since becoming profoundly deaf in 2006, Toni’s own experience as a patient, caregiver, and advocate has resulted in her strong commitment to improving the culture and practice of providing access to communication in health care.  She believes this will only be achieved by educating health care providers and empowering patients so that they can achieve effective communication.

Jody Prysock is a certified sign language interpreter with more than 30 years experience interpreting in a variety of settings, specializing in mental health interpreting.  It is through her former role as director of Language, Cultural & Disability Services at a large, urban, academic medical center that Jody first became aware of the significant challenges faced people with hearing loss who do not communicate in sign language.  As she listened to the stories of patients and their families, she recognized the great inequity in receiving quality health care.  This is where her commitment to education, training, and advocacy began.  Jody’s mission is to help change practice by first changing the culture.  Currently, people with hearing loss are seen only through a medical lens, therefore minimizing or denying their rights to effective communication. 

Acknowledgments from Toni Iacolucci and Jody Prysock

Thank you to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) for their leadership and support: Margaret Wallhagen, RN, Ph.D., FAAN, UCSF School of Nursing, former chair, HLAA Board of Trustees; Barbara Kelley, HLAA executive director; and Lise Hamlin, HLAA director of public policy.

We appreciate the HLAA New York City Chapter Members Ruth Bernstein, Holly Cohen, Anne Pope, and Gail Weiss, for their guidance, feedback, edits, and support.

Thank you to our colleagues who contributed their insight and expertise to this project: Steven R. Weiner, RN, MS, MPA, senior director, Patient Access, NYU Langone Medical Center; Jodi Herbsman, PT, DPT, program manager, Acute Care Rehabilitation Therapies, Rusk Rehabilitation; Joseph Montano, Ed.D., associate professor of audiology in clinical otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical Center.