Think ahead to your next healthcare appointment.

How do you feel about the upcoming visit? What do you hope will happen in the 15 or so minutes you’ll get with the clinician? How do you hope to feel afterward?

What would make the difference?

Studies back up what you likely already know. It matters that your physician listens and takes your concerns seriously. And it matters that you leave understanding your health conditions and treatment options. The take-home message is this: You and your healthcare team are a partnership in maintaining your health and your family’s health.

In fact, studies show that if patients receive information they understand about their prognosis, they are 20 percent more likely to see their symptoms disappear.[1]

In other words, compassion, empathy and open communication make a crucial difference in how you heal. This is humanism at work.

A typical doctor’s visit lasts just 15 minutes[2],[3] and studies also show the length of the visit doesn’t change even when patients have more than one issue to discuss. Perhaps more troubling, these visits can lack the engagement, active dialogue and meaningful conversation that can reveal insights about the underlying causes of disease and the best treatment plan for each individual patient.

Advances in medicine, science and healthcare technologies have improved our ability to diagnose and treat disease. However, the human elements of patient care, such as compassion and empathy, often become crowded out as demands on physicians to care for more patients and contain costs take center stage. Trust and quality of care can suffer.

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation works to champion humanism in medicine as a critical element in healthcare to improving a provider’s ability to make an accurate diagnosis and formulate the best treatment plan for patients.

Quest Diagnostics is proud to be part of the Foundation’s recently formed Gold Corporate Council, whose five founding members also include  BD, Henry Schein, IBM Watson Health, and Medtronic.

Humanism in healthcare recognizes compassion, collaboration and scientific excellence as central to optimal patient-provider partnership, patient care and lower healthcare costs. Active listening, two-way communication, empathy and a compassionate bedside manner, as well as engaging patients as key members of their own treatment team, are crucial elements of diagnosis and treatment. Importantly, studies show that these approaches, elements of humanistic care, improve outcomes and patient satisfaction with care.

As a provider of diagnostic information services which serves one in three American adults and half of the country’s physicians and hospitals each year, our 43,000 employees are keenly focused on healthcare delivery and outcomes and how we might do a better job on behalf of patients and healthcare providers. This is all the more important today in an era of rapid technological change and cost containment.

Through our collective reach, the council aims to elevate the importance of compassion and empathy in healthcare. We will ignite conversation and action across the healthcare landscape and in our own organizations, among the patients, providers, payers and employees we serve. We support the foundation’s mission to protect the human connection in healthcare, and we look forward to helping the foundation expand and enhance programs for patients, students and residents, and healthcare professionals throughout their careers. The council members have also pledged to expand humanism in healthcare deeper within our own organizations — from the development and distribution of medical supplies, to the delivery of healthcare products, services and life-saving treatment innovations, to artificial intelligence breakthroughs and beyond.

At Quest that means incorporating the Gold Foundation’s Tell Me More® program into our Everyday Excellence program.  Our goal is to provide a superior experience every day in every interaction. Tell Me More® was originally designed by medical interns to strengthen the critical human bond that exists between people who are patients and the individuals who care for them. Tell Me More® enables patients and caregivers to get to know each other beyond their diagnoses and job descriptions. Tell Me More® is a natural addition to Everyday Excellence.

Through our collaboration on the Gold Corporate Council, we will learn from one another, share best practices and serve as models to the industry to protect the human connection in healthcare.

[1]Jackson JL, Kroenke K. The effect of unmet expectations among adults presenting with physical symptoms. Ann Intern Med. 2001 May 1;134(9 Pt 2):889-97.