Communication strategies for a successful inpatient dermatology consultative service: a narrative review

Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2017 Mar;36(1):23-27. doi: 10.12788/j.sder.2017.002.


Inpatient dermatology consultative services care for hospitalized patients with skin disease in collaboration with the primary inpatient team. Effective, efficient communication is important. A consultation service must develop strong relationships with primary inpatient teams requesting consults in order to provide optimal patient care. Prior studies have identified effective communication practices for inpatient consultative services. This narrative review provides a summary of effective communication practices for an inpatient dermatology consultation service organized into 5 domains: (1) features of the initial consult request; (2) best practices in responding to the initial consult; (3) effective communication of recommendations; (4) interventions to improve consultations; and (5) handling curbside consultations. Recommendations include identifying the specific reason for consult; establishing urgency; secure sharing of sensitive clinical information such as photographs; ensuring timely responses; providing clear yet brief documentation of the differential diagnosis, problem list, final diagnosis and recommendations; and limiting curbside consultations. Future studies are needed to validate effective strategies to enhance communication practices within an inpatient dermatology consultative service.

Keywords: communication; consultative dermatology; dermatology hospitalists; inpatient dermatology; interdisciplinary care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Dermatology*
  • Hospital Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Referral and Consultation*
  • Speech