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Readers Write: The Case for Compassion in Healthcare

December 16, 2019 Readers Write 2 Comments

The Case for Compassion in Healthcare
By Frank Myeroff

Frank Myeroff is managing partner of Direct Recruiters, Inc. of Solon, OH.


Working in the healthcare space my whole career, over 30 years, and having always been on the IT side, I always felt I was in healthcare. During my days, I have written code, supported systems, implemented all kinds of applications, managed IT teams, and run large implementations. My view changed when I moved to the staffing space to get off the road for my family. I felt it was a great opportunity to view the healthcare space from another perspective, and it was.

Then that view changed again as the result of a three-minute phone call that truly immersed me and allowed me to see what healthcare really means.

The ultrasound technician told me as I walked out after my test, “The doctor will be calling you today.” That three-minute phone call conveyed a diagnosis and led to immediate surgery and an ongoing treatment plan.

As professionals in healthcare — doctors, nurses, healthcare staffing, healthcare operations, healthcare IT professionals, etc. — we are largely in tune with the processes that go into the healthcare system. As a patient, the experiences are far different, and far more emotional, as I quickly found out.

Being thrust into the patient side unexpectedly has been invaluable in my career. What I realized from all of this is that while IT really impacts patients, we in IT need to work with our clinicians and teams to understand the impact of what we do and the compassion and sensitivity that is needed to pair with innovative technologies for successful patient outcomes.

The roles of healthcare IT professionals go beyond implementing applications and systems. They are responsible for developing and driving technology in the healthcare setting, but also for giving clinicians the tools they need to provide individualized care plans and to ultimately achieve efficient and improved quality of care. The final piece of that puzzle requires compassion and communication from healthcare professionals to patients.

Data and technology are essential. However, if clinicians only focus on the data and ignore the communication and explanation of that data to patients, we are missing something huge. According to a Harris Poll in the Wall Street Journal, and cited in “Compassionomics” by Stephen Trzeciak and Anthony Mazzarelli, three times the number of patients value human connection and caring from their physician versus valuing the prestige of the institution where the physician was trained. Another study showed that 85% of patients report that compassion is important to them when making a healthcare decision. Compassion and empathy are important in healthcare, which is clear to me from both the studies my own experience.

Whatever side of healthcare you’re on, keep in mind the factors that play into quality patient care. The experiences I have had as a patient not only make me proud of what we in IT to help people, they also help me to understand the true usage that in return helps provide better solutions. Healthcare IT professionals influence patient care and have a great impact on all who serve in the hospital.

We should all be proud of what we do and the tremendous impact we have on patients, providing quality care, compassion, and better outcomes. Isn’t that what really matters?

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Wow, I agree. It’s all about compassion and caring for people. Many of the new technology applications teams have so many applications analyst that are full of venom, most have transferred from nursing or the medical side. I just can’t believe they were in nursing, based on the way they conduct themselves on the technology applications teams and analytics. And the large consulting firms are so evil in how they treat contractors and consultants. And contractors will throw anyone under the bus, just to shine in front of leadership

    Where is the compassion and human element? It does not exist on the application EMR teams or in the large consulting firms.

    Golive Deadlines are the focus and no one wants to document future state processes … Timelines, Timelines….from leadership

    The EMR Applications Analyst and Consulting Firms and Contractors need to adhere to a code of conduct that shows compassion. The projects across the country have gotten completely out of hand with the venomous spirits from the technology applications teams, boutique firms and that does include hospital ftes as well

    We have to remember that the decisions we make on the technology applications analyst teams as well as leadership will one day affect our family.

    The human element is lost on the EMR projects, it’s ok to have passion, but don’t forget compassion. And oh yeah, it shows.

    Great article.

    God Bless!!

    • Compassion and the human element absolutely exists on EMR development teams. I’ve been part of that environment, at multiple companies.

      But here is the problem compassion and “business” are in direct conflict. This is the crux of the problem with profit-driven, market-driven solutions. When the people signing your paycheck define value and measure the performance of their companies, divisions product/engineering teams, and individuals by financial output, people will being to orient themselves towards their own goals and incentives (by necessity — we all need to buy groceries and pay the rent.) This makes people selfish, and can make them very cold and mean. I try like hell to live my values even in the corporate world, but leaving your heart open to true compassion also leaves you vulnerable to other people’s heartless and thoughtless behavior. It doesn’t take too long to be worn down, and eventually to leave that environment out of self-preservation.

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