With all of the consolidation and technological automation in medicine today, it can become easy to treat patient care as a commodity where every experience is the same no matter where you go. Standardizing policies and procedures can certainly play a role in improving quality and cost of care, but we must not lose the opportunity and power of our greatest asset: human connection.
This is the differentiator — the spark that ignites and sustains relationships that are so important to health care delivery. In this increasingly digital and mass-produced world, patients yearn to be seen, heard, remembered and valued. Furthermore, trust is critical to patient compliance. And that trust is built through nurturing relationships — through ongoing communication, caring, honesty, respect, service and support.
When you ask someone about a healthcare experience, what they most often remember were the people and how those people made them feel. This is because the heart of health care will always be the individual provider-patient relationship. And it holds the key to the quality improvements and outcomes everyone seeks.
About a decade ago, Dow Chemical ran an ad campaign called The Human Element. I think the words of these ads are as relevant today as ever:
“For each of us, there is a moment of discovery. In the flash of a synapse, we learn that life is elemental. This knowledge changes everything. We see all things connected. The element not listed on the chart – is the missing element – the human element. And when we add it to the equation – the chemistry changes. Every reaction is different. The human element is the element of change. Nothing is more fundamental. Nothing more elemental.”