The following issue briefs highlight the importance of compassionate healthcare, the impact of compassion on health outcomes, best practices and recommendations for creating a healthcare environment where caregivers, patients and families can benefit from compassion for themselves and each other.
June 17, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown into sharp relief long-standing inequities in the American healthcare system. Black and brown communities have experienced a disproportionate number of coronavirus cases and deaths. For example, at the height of the pandemic in New York City, age-adjusted mortality rates for Blacks and Latinos were double those of whites and Asians. The pandemic’s economic devastation has been unevenly experienced as well. In a national survey conducted in July and August of 2020, 72% of Latino, 60% of Black, and 55% of Native American people reported they were experiencing serious financial problems. In contrast, 37% of Asian and 36% of white people said the same.
Despite our scientific understanding of addiction as a chronic disease whose sufferers are prone to relapses, many health professionals and the public still believe that addiction is a choice or a moral failing. Furthermore, common everyday language and slang stigmatizes individuals with SUD and creates cognitive bias towards punitive judgment rather than compassion.
At the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare’s recent New York Thought Leadership Breakfast, in partnership with NewYorkBIO and held at the New York Genome Center, a panel of experts representing diverse perspectives came together to discuss the impact of healthcare cost containment on the patient-caregiver relationship, with a specific focus on so-called “step therapies” to contain prescription drug costs
Compassion is not a panacea for what ails the U.S. healthcare system, but it can be the foundation for improving patients’ care experiences, patient and caregiver satisfaction, and a hospital’s bottom line.
At a recent panel discussion in Boston, four thought leaders who work at the intersection of medicine and technology discussed how new healthcare technologies are affecting the patient-caregiver relationship.
Compassion is essential for effective collaboration among healthcare professionals, staff, patients and families. But despite evidence supporting the importance of compassionate healthcare, the concepts and skills related to empathy and compassion, and that are needed to provide person-/family-centered and relationship-based care, are not routinely taught, modeled and assessed across the continuum of learning and practice.
In our increasingly complex healthcare environments, collaboration is essential if we are to progress toward the “Triple Aim” of creating positive patient and family experiences and better health at lower cost.
Between October 2013 and April 2014, the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare and the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals (COBTH) held eight special Schwartz Center Rounds® sessions for hospital staff , first responders and medical volunteers who treated those injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
Despite the current focus on patient centeredness, healthcare professionals face numerous challenges that impede their ability to provide compassionate care that ameliorates concerns, distress, or suffering.