How many times do patients leave their appointment feeling unsure? No one acknowledged their distress due to pain, no one seemed to understand and ultimately, no one showed the patient empathy. Empathy is the key ingredient in providing humane, compassionate care. The National Institute of Health defines empathy as “the act of correctly acknowledging the emotional state of another without experiencing that state oneself.” It’s common and comes easily to feel empathy trying to understand sad moments of our friends, the stress of our husband or wife after a hard day at work or the ails of our families. So why not the same reaction towards patients?
Practicing empathy in healthcare is crucial in order to achieve high quality healthcare, producing successful medical outcomes and exceeding bottom line goals. There are many obstacles to surpassing bottom line goals which may include:
- Physician burnout
- Low patient satisfaction
- High turnover rates
- Poor medical outcomes resulting in high readmission rates
- Mistakes and lawsuits
Here’s how empathy in healthcare is better for patients—and your bottom line.
Empathy in healthcare is critical for a healthcare provider to connect with patients and be more effective in patient care. According to a study from the Advisory Board, there is a strong correlation between having positive patient-provider relationships and positive treatment outcomes. These empathetic connections build stronger relationships enabling patients to feel comfortable giving honest feedback about their needs. Empathy in healthcare can impact your organization’s bottom line by fostering patient loyalty and greatly impacting patient satisfaction scores.
How do you inject more empathy in healthcare?
Even though we are wired to be empathetic as people, it doesn’t always come easy. Cultivating a culture of empathy takes time and does require continuous upkeep. But the hard work and effort will be worth it. Here’s some quick tips:
- Listen to your patients
- Make eye contact
- Use nonverbal cues
- Put yourself in the other person’s position
- Find common ground
Empathy in healthcare is extremely valuable. Empathy makes your staff, patients and bottom line happier all at the same time.
Customers of HybridChart have significantly reduce their readmission penalties. One customer was able to reduce hospital readmission rates to 1/3 that of the national average! Ready to reduce yours?
Dr. Gregory Sanders is a Harvard-trained, practicing cardiologist and founder and CEO of HybridChart. He has been coding since the 1980s and has spent his medical career focusing on improving processes. His patient care skills earned him recognition as one of Phoenix Magazine’s TOP DOCs. He lives in Scottsdale with his family.