Patch Adams can teach a lot to healthcare providers, educators and recruiters -- a real life physician (played by Robin Williams) who rocked the establishment by arguing that medicine should not treat disease, but the patient (shocking!). Patch was an early champion of “patient-centric” care (and the positive impact of humor).
For the past few years, hospitals have been focused on improving patient satisfaction scores and reducing complications because both impact reimbursement. It’s actually, one of those areas were the right thing and the smart thing are the same thing. The “business” of healthcare is best served by maintaining a laser focus on what’s best for the patient. Efficiency, accuracy, reduced waste, engaging the patient in his or her care, thinking about care delivery from the patient’s point of view – all good for the patient, and for the system. Like Patch Adams, we need to remember that part of the care and compassion of healthcare goes beyond treating the physiology and the diagnosis, to easing the psychological pain and stress that are so common during a hospital stay. The added bonus is that this approach improves outcomes and the patient experience.
Human resources professional have a significant impact on a hospital’s ability to create the right culture, to fulfill its mission and to provide the level of care and the patient experience that we aspire to. Every hiring and promotion decision, ultimately, affects patients. Is anything more important than identifying people who can treat patients the way they deserve to be treated? Patch Adams teaches us three things:
- The ability to connect with people impacts outcomes
- Clinical experience is not the only predictor of success
- Always focus on what’s best for the patient
Recently, my elderly mother spent a few days in the hospital. She is easily confused, and like most elderly people, her confusion increases when she is hospitalized. She was anxious as the stream of people came in and out of her room, none of them introducing themselves or explaining what they were doing. Then a respiratory therapist came in: “Hello Mrs. Warren, I’m Bill, your respiratory therapist.” He sensed her anxiety. “Do you know why you are here?” She shook her head. He a few took a few moments during the treatment to tell her that they were monitoring her overnight to watch her breathing and that the doctor would see her in the morning. He didn’t cure her disease, but he certainly eased her angst, which I’m sure Patch Adams would have appreciated. This allowed her to rest and to heal. Now, how do we make sure that everyone who deals with a patient is aware, empathic and able to communicate – like Patch, and more importantly, like Bill?
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