Emotionally Attached Medicine

We’re living in a time when empathy seems more important than ever, with the uncertainty prompted by COVID-19. It makes us consider how does the empathy and emotional intelligence of a physician impact patient health and outcomes? The health care Experience is unavoidably filled with emotion, yet physicians can sometimes approach these high-emotion moments with detached, evidence-based responses. In fact, this study found that only 53% of patients felt that their physicians were empathic and caring. There are many reasons why this is the reality of more than half of our patients: from physician burnout, to pressure to see as many patients as possible, to complex relationships across care teams. Where apathy is one result of these pressures, empathy can be a powerful solution. Another study found that physicians who report showing empathic concern for their patients also reported having higher job satisfaction. Perceived empathy also improves the likelihood that a patient will comply with a doctor’s orders and can even improve their ability to get over the common cold. When we develop our providers to work from a place of wholeheartedness, we actually increase the likelihood that our patients will stay with our organizations and see better outcomes.

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