Even as the COVID-19 pandemic fast-tracked digital adoption in healthcare, it reminded us of something critical: empathy is vital to human interactions, regardless of how they take place.
Empathy is more than compassion; it requires people to center others and recognize the unique barriers they face. Patients need their providers to do the same when delivering care now, and in a post-pandemic future. But, empathy should go beyond a single encounter; it’s important for patients to receive personalized experiences across all healthcare settings along their unique journey.
Patient Experience Impacts Care Quality
The patient experience you deliver has a significant impact on how your patients perceive their quality of care, earning it a starring role in the quadruple aim. In this Becker’s Hospital Review article, Dr. Airica Steed, executive vice president and COO of Sinai Health System shared: “Patients and families don’t see the separation or divide between the quality and experience of care; it’s bundled in the same world from their vantage point.”
By anchoring your patient engagement strategy in empathy, you’ll be able to:
1. Understand the whole person
With empathy at the forefront of your patient engagement initiatives, you’ll be better positioned to get the full picture of each individual patient. This includes better understanding and accounting for the environmental, behavioral, and cultural factors impacting their health. One size does not fit all, particularly when interacting with unique individuals in uniquely complex situations. With this increased understanding, you can deliver more comprehensive care and implement targeted methods that move patients to adhere to treatment plans.
According to Steed, for Sinai Health System to deliver a personalized patient experience, the organization must “understand the unique aspects of the patient and relate on the various cultural and ethnic backgrounds so we can address their needs before they have to ask for them.” This is more important than ever in light of the dramatic health inequities underscored by COVID-19. A patient engagement strategy that recognizes the disparate burden helps establish trust and sets patients up for a successful care journey with providers who consider their whole selves, rather than just their conditions.
2. Be more proactive
When you tap into empathy to anticipate patient needs before they surface, you can provide proactive, preventive care along the continuum. In the age of COVID-19, this is paramount, as patients have come to expect more than just reactive care.
According to the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions report: Digital Transformation: Shaping the future of European healthcare, the rapid digitization of healthcare during the pandemic has increased citizens’ understanding of their own health status and compelled them to want more personalized interventions based on their own data. Additionally, the Deloitte 2020 Survey of U.S. Health Care Consumers found more consumers are willing to share personal health information as a result of a crisis. By uncovering patient intelligence that goes beyond standard demographics and with an empathetic stance on patient engagement, providers can identify potential health risks and address them head on. This also leads to smoother transitions between points of care.
Key to this is not relying on technology as a panacea, but rather a means to a more relational care environment. A holistic patient engagement ecosystem requires an intelligence layer to synthesize any data and infrastructure with patient-facing engagement points, driving a person-centered and seamless experience across digital and in-person settings.
3. Create a singular experience
The pandemic has highlighted the need for this integration throughout the care continuum in order to improve the patient experience overall. Patients should receive the same level of personalized attention when moving from a hospital setting to post-acute care, or from a primary care physician to a specialist. A curated approach that addresses individual barriers and biases, prioritizes episodes of care, and tailors communications effectively fosters patients’ unique journeys to health.
Customer experience futurist, author, and keynote speaker Blake Morgan shared with Forbes: “Companies that are most successful with streamlining their processes take an empathetic approach to truly think about what patients need.” By leading with empathy and considering the patient perspective at each step, you can offer consistent service. This ensures you address pain points across your entire ecosystem, rather than making ad-hoc decisions.
Lirio Translates Data for Patient Engagement
Lirio enables health systems to scale empathy to effectively engage with patients in all healthcare settings, combining behavioral science with artificial intelligence to move people to better health. Our behavior change AI platform serves as the intelligence layer between systems of record and systems of engagement to deliver tailored, behavioral interventions across your entire population.
By translating the patient data in your EHR and data warehouses for application in platforms like your patient portal, telehealth service, email distribution, and more, you deliver patient-focused experiences that initiate and drive sustained behaviors to optimize patient engagement, close gaps in care, and measurably improve health outcomes.
To learn more about how to lead with empathy and care for hard-to-reach populations, watch our recent webinar, “Vaccination Adoption and Equity Must Meet People Where They Are,” featuring Dr. Deborah Stamps, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Executive Vice President of Quality, Safety, and Innovation at Rochester Regional Health.
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