Empathy – Key to Healthcare Success

I was moved by the ‘Empathy’ video on ‘YouTube’ [see the embedded video]. This is a video every health care provider, be it a medical practitioner or non-medical practitioner must watch. The CEO of Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, USA, Dr. Toby Cosgrove, MD, showed this video during his 2012 state of the clinic address.

Dr. Cosgrove, who I had the fortune of meeting during a 2 week intense healthcare leadership course I attended in this magnificent hospital in April 2013 says; Patient care is more than just healing – it is building a connection that encompasses mind, body and soul. If you stand in someone else’s shoes, hear what they hear, see what they see, feel what they feel, would you treat them differently?

Under the leadership of Dr. Toby Cosgrove, Cleveland clinic introduced the concept of ‘Care Givers’. They had a bold banner in their website; 6 years ago Cleveland Clinic got rid of all employees. They were replaced with caregivers.

Now everyone at Cleveland clinic, be it a doctor, nurse, patient care attendent , billing officer, customer service officer, accountant, marketer, security guard or ambulance driver is a ‘Caregiver’. This move helped make a tremendous transformation in the hospital contributing towards making it one of the best in the world.

Another healthcare leader, Dr. Jay Crosson, MD, Associate Executive Director from Kaiser Permanente, one of the leading health care facilities in the USA says: ‘Answer the phone; meet my needs; and treat me with dignity and empathy. If we do those things, we will succeed. If we don’t do those things, then no matter what else we do, we will not succeed”. Dr. Crosson’s message is loud and clear; if we don’t treat our patients with care and empathy we will not succeed.

As the leader of Apollo Hospital Dhaka, I am on a mission leading my team to make the hospital a premier international standard healthcare destination with comprehensive super specialty tertiary excellence touching lives with care and empathy by creating empathetic caregivers.

While most of my team cares for our patients with empathy, my message to the few doctors, nurses, patient care assistant’s, customer care officer’s, management personal or any team member for that matter who needs to improve in this area is; get into the minds of our patients and their family. They are concerned about the disease, they are confused about the treatment, they are anxious about the surgery, they are waiting to go back home to attend a child’s wedding, they are wondering if they will be able to walk again, they are worried about how to pay their bill. Please listen to them from your heart, understand them and feel the way they feel.

Think how you would treat them if you knew what they are going through. Give them time, give them care, and help them understand. Do what you would have done if it were your own family member. This message is for everyone. I am sure those who need to improve will take this in the right spirit and those who are already doing it, to keep doing it even better.

While this message is directed to my team in the hospital, I am sure everyone reading this, what ever vocation you have chosen, can take something from this blog to touch a person you serve so that you can make your little contribution to make this world we live and love a better place for all of us.

5 thoughts on “Empathy – Key to Healthcare Success

  1. DM

    The message is clear. Powerful. Moving. Motivating even … but let’s not be fooled, this is the way the clinic wants the patient to feel – the hope, the compassion and care the clinic aims to deliver. It is the glossy external view, looking in, but only looks at surface level. What about the caregivers? Are they treated with the same level of care by their managers? I hope that the business managers are able to ‘get into the minds of our [caregivers] and their family’, because then the caregivers will be fully motivated to deliver the promise offered in the video.


    1. Thanks for your comments. Yes I agree that we need empathetic caregivers to create such patient care and we need empathetic managers to create empathetic caregivers. I am not sure if you are from Cleveland or any other clinic, but from the little i know about Cleveland, i know their are many initiatives in place to create a positive employee experience. I was in a intense meeting with my management team to create an even more positive employee experience for my team and i read your comment out to my team. It was very timely and relevant. We decided on some great steps in this regard. Be in touch… Wish you all the best.


      1. DM

        I am neither from USA, nor in the Health industry, but have been a client of the Health industry and it’s employees on several occasions. My comments were not directly aimed at this clinic, but you offered the platform so I took the chance to make the statement. I think the principle is applicable to all clinical organisations and all other businesses irrespective of location. I really hope you achieve your aims and then go on to ‘contaminate’ other organisations, based on that success.


      2. Thanks for your comments and yes I agree this is a mindset required in any organization. I also do contaminate other organizations with this thinking as i guide many as a consultant while leading the hospital. Wish you all the best.


  2. No matter how many times I watch this video it makes me cry…and the message so strong in the end…which motivates me to put myself on other people shoe and try to understand their emotions to help them better….thank you


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s