Is Your Attitude Making Patients Sicker?

Sep 23, 2015 | The Clinic

A doctor’s ability to empathize with patients has always been a lynchpin of patient care. And, for some, the focus has been on the business benefits on the quality of the patient-doctor relationships: higher cash flow and reimbursement, and practice growth.

A new study shows that empathy also has a profound affect on patient outcomes. The analysis of care given to patients with health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension showed that more attentive care via empathy improved the patients overall health and well being.

Empathy leads to better compliance

Patients need to know that doctors understand their concerns and apprehensions. The more comfortable a patient is with their healthcare provider; they’re more likely to ask more questions about their health. This leads to patients asking more questions about their care and becoming more compliant with treatment instructions.

Carving out those extra minutes for patients is tough. That makes fast, automated and accurate diagnostic equipment critical. Other studies show that empathy in doctors declines after medical school. No sleep, stress and caring for patients the first time can do that for you.

Fortunately, empathy is a skill you can learn, relearn, or enhance.
Help is available, too. Massachusetts General Hospital, for example is using Empathetics, to help providers tune into the emotional states of patients.

Practice empathy, and it will make patients happier and healthier and help you enjoy a plumper bottom line.