When asked if healthcare and compassion go hand in hand most people would undoubtedly agree. Care without compassion, after all, misses the main point of why many people become doctors, nurses and caregivers — a desire to help others, to see individuals healthy and happy.
Yet the nature of the healthcare industry, with its fast-paced, high-stress environment, means that compassionate care — addressing the emotional and psychosocial aspects of the patient experience and the patient's innate need for human connections and relationships — is often overlooked in exchange for providing immediate physical and mental care. Recognizing the concerns, distress and suffering of patients and their families, and taking action to relieve them, can be difficult with hundreds of patients to see.
That does not, however, decrease the important of compassion in patient care. According to the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare hospitals that show a commitment to empathy and sensitivity have a better bottom line and higher levels of patient and employee satisfaction. Health systems that emphasize compassionate care experience lower staff turnover, more patient loyalty, lower rates of readmission, fewer medical errors and fewer costly procedures, according to the Schwartz Center study.
The study finds that compassionate care is not simply an aspect of the doctor-patient relationship. It extends to employees, with caregiver support initiatives such as mindfulness training programs, expressive therapy centers and weekly wellness conferences. Clinicians and nurses witness suffering, trauma and conflict on a daily basis, and they cannot be expected to rise above the stress of their position to express sincere empathy without a support system.
The Schwartz Center also found the transparency was key to achieving compassionate care. Opportunities to improve patient experience by listening to patients themselves is one way to improve. Patient Approved allows healthcare facilities to access real time feedback left by patients regarding the care they received. Acting on these reviews can help hospitals improve their services.