The Center for Communication in Medicine (CCM) is the education division of the Institute of Medical Humanism, a Bennington, VT based nonprofit organization.

Since 2001 our educational programs and tools have helped patients and loved ones prepare for conversations with healthcare providers, leading to improved communication about treatment options, quality of life considerations and supportive care needs.

Founders, psychologist Bernard Bandman, writer Celia Engel Bandman and patient, lawyer, and national healthcare advocate Patricia Barr (1950-2002) recognized that medicine is a world with its own language where time was at a premium. This is still true! Patients often find themselves unprepared to be effective communicators.

With this in mind CCM designed and implemented its innovative ‘medical humanist’ program at Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center (2002-2005) to help facilitate doctor-patient communication. The ‘medical humanist’ documented the patients’ perspective of illness for the cancer care team which identified what may have been misunderstood or unspoken during the office visit. Building on the success of the cancer center program CCM developed the Difficult Conversations Toolkit, now revised as SpeakSooner®: A Patient’s Guide to Difficult Conversations, to help patients identify their questions and concerns in preparation for opening honest dialogues with healthcare providers.

CCM’s SpeakSooner® Initiative was launched in 2013 to prepare patients to open timely and frank conversations with healthcare providers; help family, friends and caregivers identify needed supports; and engage doctors in inviting patients to ask questions and express concerns. SpeakSooner programs in medical practices and community have been changing the way people are communicating about healthcare needs and supports.