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Empathy crucial to success in healthcare system

July 17th, 2014

by Sherri Loeb

As I reflect on my daughter Jennifer's first few weeks as a new intern in internal medicine, I can't help but look back at my experience with my husband during his battle with prostate cancer and think that perhaps there still is some hope for empathy, transparency and honesty.

Jennifer also witnessed her father throughout his illness through the lens of a loving daughter, as well as that of a medical student. At that time, I hoped what she learned not only through this experience, but for many years of discussions at the dinner table, she would carry on into her own practice as a physician.

Recently, I read a blog written by a physician who experienced first-hand what it was like being a patient. As H. Lee Kagan, M.D., writes, "There is no better lesson for a doctor than to be a patient." Later, he writes, "I wouldn't wish misfortune on anyone as a lesson in empathy. But as I get into the later stages of my professional career, it's become clear to me that one's capacity to empathize grows with life experience. Though there are exceptions, I believe there's only so much most healthy twenty-something-year-old medical and nursing students can know about loss, incapacity, disappointment, betrayal and triumph that make up the fabric of life within which illnesses play out. So we help as best we can by teaching skills, sharing stories and by setting examples at the bedside and in clinics."

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Physician leadership development hinges on communication

July 16th, 2014

by Kenneth H. Cohn

I quip that I have amphibian DNA because despite having worked in 43 states, I learned the hard way that each hospital has different people, culture and expectations.

I was told that physicians clammed up when in a room with administrators.

Yet, when I taught leadership development to physicians at a hospital in the South, discussing the role of relationships, communication and team-building, a COO attended and participated in my sessions. We had a session on ways to avoid amygdala hijack, having the mid-brain take over at a time of stress, leading to deteriorating relationships. I mentioned that sometimes 20 to 30 seconds is all that we need to give the frontal cortex the opportunity to overcome the stress response and promote communication and team-building to improve patient care outcomes. For example, we can pause--take a breath, sip water, ask a question, and/or leave the room for a moment.

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Human-like robots create patient-centered healthcare environment

July 16th, 2014

by Kent Bottles

In a famous 1927 essay titled "The Care of the Patient," Francis Peabody states that the personal bond between the doctor and the patient is the source of the "greatest satisfaction of the practice of medicine." Many providers who balk at the rapid transformation of the American healthcare delivery system complain that electronic medical records and other interventions interfere with this central relationship. It is always assumed the interaction between two living human beings is central to the care of patients.

My embrace of the above conventional wisdom was first challenged by Joseph C. Kvedar, M.D.'s concept of emotional automation with its belief that humans can and will develop trusting relationships with sociable humanoid robots. My skepticism was gradually overcome by Kvedar's examples of Karen, the virtual wellness coach/avatar, who motivates human patients to exercise more than a control group, and the Boston hospital patients who preferred a robot discharge planner to a human nurse. In the latter case, the patients commented that the robot was never in a hurry and did not talk down to the subjects.

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Beliefs important to future of healthcare leadership

July 10th, 2014

by Kevin L. Shrake

Martin Luther King Jr. was able to attract over a quarter million people to the Mall in Washington, District of Columbia to hear his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. How was he able to do this without the internet, email, texting, Facebook or Twitter?

He did this because of how he communicated his beliefs and how those beliefs struck emotions in people of all walks of life. He did not have a 12-point strategic plan on a PowerPoint presentation--he had a dream. Leaders inspire and people want to follow them. Managers gain cooperation based on their hierarchical power. Which one are you?

What Do I Believe in?

Here are some of my common beliefs based on a lifetime in healthcare and from an executive's perspective. I believe:

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Get on board managing with metrics, or give somebody else a chance

July 10th, 2014

by Lynn McVey

Six months ago, when my dad needed an emergency pacemaker, I wrote about the lack of care coordination I witnessed as an insider. Because I am an insider, I was able to navigate him through three hospitals for three life-saving interventions in three days. As the acting CEO of a hospital, I intercepted two preventable medical errors on my father's behalf. Nearly 30 caregivers walked into his room every evening/night.

At this point, we (the healthcare industry) aren't even close to solving this dilemma. We haven't even come up with a concept to link all these interventions to prevent redundancies and errors. I read today that the most likely disrupter, who might fix our current healthcare system, will probably come from a different industry. Who is healthcare's Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos?

=> Read more!

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