Emotional intelligence increasingly important in healthcare

The medical field can take a lesson from corporate America in valuing the importance of emotional intelligence or EQ, writes healthcare policy expert Paul H. Keckley, Ph.D., in a Hospitals & Health Networks report.

EQ is essentially a person's ability to sense the feelings of those around them and respond appropriately, says Keckley, an independent health researcher and policy analyst, who co-authored the piece with writer Marina Karp. Up until now, the application of EQ in healthcare has been mostly limited to interactions between caregivers and patients, but as the system moves from volume to value-based incentives those applications are growing, Keckley says.

Emotional intelligence plays a critical role in how effectively physicians communicate and establish relationships with patients, as FiercePracticeManagement previously reported. Now value-based care depends on team-based methods of care delivery and the use of technologies in diagnosis, treatment and care coordination, making EQ in patient care more important. "An organization that does not take EQ in patient care seriously is prone to poor clinical and financial performance. It's that simple," Keckley writes. EQ, he says, is important in:

Physician recruitment. Organizations should look for EQ training when they recruit physicians.

Team-based care. Physicians must listen to all the team members, including nutritionists, mental health counselors, pharmacists and nurses, rather than taking a "captain knows best" attitude.

Health coaching High EQ nurses and educators can take cues from patients and help them to achieve better health, he says.

Cyber care. As more interaction between patients and caregivers takes place via chat rooms, social networks and televisits, it is crucial to engage patients.

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