Patient care is more than just physical healing, it’s a total package that involves building a human connection that goes beyond the body to include the mind and soul. In a word, it’s called empathy, or the capability to put oneself in another person’s shoes and share their feelings and emotions. It’s what we, as humans, are capable of doing and do so to people around us.
In the clinical setting, empathy allows health care professionals to connect with their patients and help them through their treatments. In a nutshell, it humanizes the whole hospital or clinic experience and gives it more meaning, whereas it would otherwise be a cold and lonely process that a patient has to go through in order to heal the body. But why is this human connection such a huge part in patient care?
Provides a connection to the patient.
Empathy allows health workers to effectively communicate with their patients, not just in spoken words and instructions, but also in actions. This connection between the health care provider and the patient is apparent when the health care provider can gain an understanding of what the patient must be going through, acknowledging their fears and inner turmoil, and knowing when to ask and when to stay quiet and communicate by therapeutic touch. Such a connection can be the start of the patient’s willingness to be more involved in his or her treatment plan..
Facilitates trust and disclosure.
Establishing such a human connection with anyone let alone a patient can be difficult, though, especially when the said patient hardly feels like talking to the health care provider. By grasping the meaning of the patient’s words and actions, and responding accordingly and emphatically, it can invite trust and encourage the patient to disclose more information that’s vital to his well-being. On the other hand, if the physician or nurse is cold, not genuine, and does not seem engaged in the patient’s current state, communication may be stunted. That human connection might not be established, and the patient might miss out on possibly becoming empowered in his treatment.
Enhances therapeutic efficacy.
Just like how talking as a form of distraction can help relieve tension and anxiety, having a human connection can enhance therapeutic efficacy directly. Showing that you understand the patient’s situation and feelings can help soften the blow of bad news, for example, as he can sense the sincerity in your actions. It can be as simple as being attentive and courteous as you attach an SpO2 sensor to the patient’s finger, explaining what it’s for. Patients are more likely to be compliant when their physician or nurse is attuned to their needs and emotional state.
Makes caring for the patient more meaningful.
That human connection that is important in patient care not only benefits the patients receiving the care, it also has a positive effect on the health care providers who take the time to establish that connection with their patients. Studies can attest that health care professionals who are emphatic and engaged are less likely to burn out more frequently compared to others who aren’t. Additionally, it makes working in the health sector more meaningful.
Recognizing how a patient feel is essential.
There is a feeling of vulnerability when one becomes a patient, and this may unknowingly cause him to feel guarded even around health care providers. Put yourself in the patient’s shoes, and imagine just how lonely and scary it might be being on a gurney just looking up at the ceiling as you’re being wheeled into an operating room. That feeling of not knowing exactly what’s going to happen, if you’ll even make it out of that operating room alive, and knowing all the stories that you know from people who have been put under general anesthesia. Acknowledge the fears that the patient might be hiding behind a facade of calmness or anger. It’s important to remember that it’s not really you, and that they want to feel that they can trust the people that are caring for them. This will facilitate that human connection is essential in patient care.
There are a lot of factors contributing to the success of patient care, but human connection undoubtedly plays a huge role in that success. Showing empathy to patients can help improve their level of satisfaction from the care that they are receiving. It also helps motivate them to stick to the agreed and recommended treatment plan, which could further lead them towards recovery and better health.