The healthcare industry is powered by some of the most brilliant minds in our country – men and women who have spent their lives researching and studying health for the sake of improving patient lives. Simultaneously, pioneers in technology have advanced healthcare in terms of speed, accuracy, and accessibility.
However, while we are building the healthcare industry through transformative innovation and the brilliance of experts, we cannot forget to leverage our emotional intelligence along the way.
Transformative innovation is impacting patient care on a wide-spread scale. Overall, the healthcare industry has improved the quality of care patients receive thanks to these innovations; however, many patients feel overwhelmed by the latest technologies like digital patient portals, wearable devices, and telehealth.
Ultimately, the healthcare industry needs to be based on the fundamental principle of human connection. Although transformative innovation is crucial to a healthier America, we cannot forget to form the relationships and take the time to connect on a deeper level along the way.
Thanks to electronic health records, patient portals, and wearable devices, patients are more connected to their health than ever before – at least digitally. The challenge, though, is that many patients find these technologies overwhelming and impersonal.
As a result, patients are suffering emotionally and in isolation. The burden of learning a new technology and worrying over whether or not one is using it properly or missing vital information that is critical to one’s health and treatment has a serious impact on the patient’s well-being.
Simultaneously, some of the ways in which healthcare has been streamlined in recent years have removed the human connection component from healthcare. For instance, the team at John Lynch & Associates recently encountered a patient in his seventies who received his cancer diagnosis from someone in a call center.
There was no face-to-face interaction, no time for him to absorb the information and ask his physician questions, no non-verbal communication to convey sympathy or support. Rather, this patient received life-altering news through a faceless mobile device and was then left to process the information on his own.
With patients having a choice of where they go for care being greater than ever before, that genuine provider-patient relationship is key to the longevity of a healthcare organization.
The reality is that whether patients are simply trying to connect with the provider’s office or he or she is trying to get answers about the next steps for care, providers have an opportunity to re-establish a human connection in the midst of incredible technological innovation.
Our goal at John Lynch & Associates is to work with organizations to ultimately advance healthcare. As technology propels the industry forward, it is up to us as industry leaders to look at the whole picture of the patient experience to ensure no aspect of patient care is left behind.
There are opportunities to connect with patients and rebuild that emotional intelligence component all around us. For instance, is your lobby warm and welcoming? Is your staff friendly? Are there informative, helpful resources available to your patients when they are in your office? What is your office’s protocols for telephone etiquette?
Conversely, the human connection breaks down quickly when your lobby is dark and your windows are plastered with fliers, or your front office staff are constantly on their personal cell phones and barely make eye contact with patients.
Human connection and leveraging emotional intelligence does not only occur in the physical space of your practice. Once a patient leaves your office, is there a follow-up procedure? How are you staying connected to their progress and staying true to what you said you were going to follow up on? How can your support staff enhance that connectivity with your patients?
Strengthening your organization’s reputation as one who cares deeply about your patients may require training providers and support staff to ensure that everyone is making optimal use of your technology, making sure that your patients feel they are in control of their care, and that everything is being done to minimize overwhelm.
Healthcare organizations often think of training in terms of actual medical knowledge and skills or how to use the latest technology. Rarely, though, are organizations equally focused on training providers and staff on how to talk to patients, how to improve the patient care experience, and how to minimize disconnection in an increasingly digital practice.
Technology for the sake of technology only goes so far. We need to have the patient experience at heart at all times.
These are areas that we at John Lynch & Associates often consult organizations to be focused on and to improve in a way that feels like a natural part of established protocols. If your organization is struggling to maintain the human connection with your patient population, reach out to us today. Together, we can advance healthcare without losing the human touch.
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