The word “compassion” is defined as the “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. “Health care practitioners (HCPs) feel more fulfilled when practicing with compassion; in turn, patients receive high-quality care, improving their overall clinical outcomes. At Arc Health, we strive to ensure our clinicians practice compassionate care despite the multitude of challenges and stresses of working in rural, resource-constrained settings. There are four simple reasons we invest in compassionate care:
- It brings health care professionals back to why they entered the practice of medicine.
Providing compassionate healthcare improves clinicians’ own care because they are doing what they got into medicine to do – to care for the lives of those who need it the most. Clinician strain and fatigue are often attributed to increasing administrative demands, cost pressures, and resource shortages, in addition to higher daily patient volume required of clinicians. Establishing health organizations and systems with resources that provide HCPs the bandwidth to practice compassionate care is an integral part of bringing them back to why they entered clinical medicine.
2. It reduces burnout and promotes resilience and well-being among clinicians.
In 2019, the term “burnout” was added to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Disease (ICD). Recent data suggest that compassion and human connection can promote long-term resilience and well-being for HCPs. “Building compassionate connections in relationship with patients builds resilience in health care providers and resistance to burnout.”
3. It improves the patient experience.
A recent survey of 1400 US adults found that nearly two-thirds experienced a lack of compassion in their healthcare. Additionally, 93% believed that a lack of compassion during visits lowered the quality of care experienced. When clinicians practice with passion and kindness, patients will inherently feel more comfortable with their provider, leaving them feeling satisfied with their visit and producing better health outcomes.
4. It yields better financial results.
Healthcare systems are understaffed with an increasing volume of patient visits and medical emergencies. A recent AAMC study projects a shortfall of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033. With fewer resources than ever, cost avoidance strategies through higher quality care and fewer medical errors will ultimately lower overall costs for healthcare systems and yield higher financial sustainability. When clinicians spend more time with patients in one visit, they may avoid future visits, thus lowering long-term costs.
Achieving compassionate healthcare at every visit will take dedication, pragmatism, and patience. The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare provides education, training, and support on compassionate care. Learn more about their Compassion in Action Healthcare Conference that occurred in June of this year and focused on making compassionate healthcare a priority.