As hospitals and health systems consolidate into large companies that focus more on the bottom line, healthcare leaders must remember the importance of empathy and humanity, according to a blog post from Eric J. Hall, president & CEO of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network in New York, New York.
Hall describes in The Huffington Post the impersonal care his friend received during his hospitalization for a complicated heart surgery. Clinicians didn't address his friend's emotional needs, leaving him depressed, according to the post. "What seems to be missing in this scenario is empathy, the ability to recognize emotions being experienced by another," Hall writes.
In a healthcare industry that becomes more and more business-oriented, Hall writes that some hospitals try and improve patient satisfaction by bolstering aesthetics and food options, but often fail to focus on empathy.
The problem begins with how medical schools train future health providers, according to Hall. For medical students, empathy and moral reasoning begin to erode during the third year of medical school, with students daily witnessing both patients and doctors experience fear, anger, grief and humiliation, FierceHealthcare previously reported.
Some organizations, such as the Cleveland Clinic, which sponsored the Patient Experience: Empathy and Innovation Summit for the past five years, push the motto that providers must offer not only excellent clinical and physical experiences, but emotional ones as well. The University of Utah now publishes ratings based on patient surveys regarding the personal treatment they received from staff during their stay. The survey asks whether doctors made eye contact or showed concern for the patients' questions or worries, Hall says.
Healthcare providers must put themselves in their patients' shoes, and think about emotional treatment from their perspective, according to Hall. "We need people like that in healthcare, caregivers who have both brains and heart," he says. "And perhaps a new hospital CEO position--Chief Empathy Officer."
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