The Value of Empathy in Healthcare

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Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

Blog by Joe Babaian

It doesn’t take an instant more, or cost a penny more, to be empathetic than it does to be indifferent.” – Brian Lee.

Let’s talk and think about #empathy and its value – both in terms of its subjective value and its return on (emotional) investment. The quote I selected for the lede of the blog makes the argument that to employ empathy costs nothing more and the alternative is indifference. Having had the privilege to interact and work with so many great people in healthcare, I propose that empathy does have a varying emotional cost for most. This is not a negative, but an observation. The “cost” is the one of self-reflection that requires one to choose to dig deep and find your own emotional connection to the situation at hand. We’d be doing a disservice to consider this “free” – indeed, the effort is proportional to the outcome, countering indifference.

We can readily see that this cost is something that doesn’t drain us but allows us to act with purpose, wherever we find ourselves in healthcare. The “cost” is always returned with interest if we let allow it. Whether we interact within the business-to-business side of healthcare or the vast patient-care arena, we can readily see the value of empathy in action. In both cases, employing empathy allows for deeper, more functional and caring interactions. These aspects, when married together, create progress and care regardless if we are talking the business of healthcare or the purely human side. Plus, where’s the line in any case?

Empathy in action, along with our growing emotional intelligence (EQ) that gives us the tools needed to maintain empathy in different situations, is simply the healthy way for us to be a real and dynamic part of healthcare. A great read on EQ and the five categories encompassed is by Michael Akers & Grover Porter in What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

“Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them,” says Howard Gardner, the influential Harvard theorist.

Let’s join the collective #hcldr community to examine the value of empathy!

Please join us Tuesday, October 8, 2019, at 8:30 pm ET (for your local time click here) as we discuss the following topics:

  • T1: How might employing empathy “cost” you anything in relation to the benefits? Examples?
  • T2: How should everyone in healthcare be working toward greater empathy? Can it and #EQ be taught?
  • T3: What (if any) are downsides to empathy in healthcare? Is this possible?
  • T4: What value do you place on empathy and #EQ personally and/or organizationally? Critical for success or not?

 

References

What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)? Michael Akers & Grover Porter. PsychCentral, 8 Oct 2018. https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-emotional-intelligence-eq/

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