Clinical empathy is one of the fundamental tools of the therapeutic relationship between healthcare professionals and their patients. And its contribution has been proven to be vital for better health outcomes.
The ability to really understand the personal experience of the patient without bonding with them, constitutes an important communication skill for any healthcare professional.
Indeed healthcare professionals with high levels of empathy are much better equipped to bring about the therapeutic change that is needed in their roles. And without question healthcare is one of the top industries where empathy matters the most.
Why empathy in healthcare is important
From the perspective of the healthcare consumer, much of the healthcare experience is centered around difficult things. Being sick is stressful. At best it can be annoying and at worst absolutely terrifying. Even in happier moments emotions tend to be high and will usually have an undercurrent of much darker emotions like fear. Add to that additional stressors such as navigating employment and financial implications of illness, and misinformation around the disease, the average patient might understandably be overwhelmed and distressed.
Showing empathy in a healthcare setting does make a huge difference for the patient.
Benefits of empathy in healthcare
On the flip side for the healthcare organisation and professional there are tangible benefits to adopting an empathetic approach, from increased business to better accepted patient-centric products and services to much improved patient satisfaction, including:
- Better patient outcomes
- Higher rates of patient compliance
- Improved patient satisfaction
- Better communication between patient and HCP
- Improved perception and trust of healthcare company
- Retaining and attracting better employees
- Growth, cost savings and higher return on investment
Barriers to empathy in healthcare
Although empathy in healthcare is undeniably important, many healthcare professionals and organisations find it difficult to take an empathetic approach on board in everyday practice.
Some of the factors that block the adoption of the development of patient empathy include, the high volume of patients being managed, the time and focus on therapy developments in the existing academic culture, and the lack of training and education in empathy.
But given such tangible benefits of adopting a patient-centric empathetic approach it not only makes good business sense but the best possible route for care for both patients and HCP s alike.
Designed with this firmly in mind A Life in a Day measurably increases empathy for patients and provides an innovative tool for HCPs at every level to increase their understanding of the patient experience.
“As a physician and someone who has family members with COPD I thought I knew everything about the patient experience, but I was wrong. Participating in A Life in a Day has given me a deeper understanding of our patients and I strongly recommend you take part in this valuable program”
Professor Philippe Seksik admits that his first consultations after he participated in the project “were a little different”. He talked to his patients about the challenges they have to face. “They felt that I was “reaching out to them” and trying to understand their symptoms, that I understood them and the consequences of their disease a little bit better than before.”
Le Monde article, May 2018
Our highly immersive simulation experience has shown to increase empathy and understanding that can lead to improved patient conversations and care, it’s a great tool for multidisciplinary teams to better understand the diverse needs of patients and increases confidence for junior staff.