Department of Health

Specialist clinics communication toolkit

How to promote consistent, respectful and clear communication with patients and referring clinicians with tips for designing letter and SMS reminders.

Poor communication with patients can cause confusion and increase costs to the healthcare system and patients who do not attend appointments miss out on valuable care.

We have developed a specialist clinics communication toolkit with common resources that provides specialist clinics at Victorian health services advice on how to promote consistent, respectful and clear communication with patients and referring clinicians with practical tips for designing letter and short message service (SMS) reminders.

This toolkit can be used by anyone working at a health service who is responsible for sending written communication to patients and referring clinicians. The resources have been developed using behaviourally informed principles and tips, as well as consumer insights and feedback to:

  • encourage patients to attend their specialist clinic appointments
  • encourage patients to cancel or reschedule if they are unable to attend
  • remind patients to bring their appointment letter and come prepared to their appointment
  • reduce costs for health services.

All resources:

  • are accessible and in plain language, and therefore easy to understand
  • are patient-centred and consider the health literacy of Victorians, ensuring that they meet the needs of patients
  • comply with requirements of the Managing referrals to non-admitted specialist services in Victorian public health services policy so that mandatory communication points will be met.

The toolkit includes a suite of easy-to-use communication templates for health services including letter templates for communication with patients and referring clinicians about appointments and referral management.

It also includes 3 information sheets designed to be shared with patients about specialist clinics. These information sheets have been translated into 22 community languages

Communication templates

Information sheets in community languages

Reviewed 04 January 2023

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