The Power of Empathy in the 6Ps

The Power of Empathy in the 6Ps

Eric J. Hall, President & CEO of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network in New York, NY, recently wrote a blog entry Empathy Needs to Be Part of the Medical Treatment. The core part of his argument is that “Empathy may not even be on the agenda in medical school or in hospitals. In fact, the word suffering was rarely used by clinicians and leading medical journals because it was considered overly emotional. Nevertheless, anxiety, confusion, and uncertainty, are what many patients endure while their bodies are being treated with the best science and technology. But within the collection of body parts to be examined, tested, probed, medicated, and operated on, there is a human spirit that is suffering. As health care becomes more corporatized, more like big business, it seems less humane. Hospitals are in the business of treating human beings -- their patients -- and that patient's satisfaction is becoming more important if the hospitals want to retain their funding. Some have tried sprucing up the décor and the menu, but they need to add empathy to the menu. [Hall Blog Entry Posted 08/19/2014 12:09 pm EDT.”  Great point, re: empathy needs to be on the radar screen for all providers.  And in fact, there are already many physicians and provider institutions (e.g., Cleveland Clinic, Cancer Centers Treatment of America) that do place high value on empathy.  But is this a central dimension for every provider?  No.  Should it be?  Yes. 

As we think about the 6Ps (patients, providers, payers, pharmaceuticals, pharmacies, and policy-makers), it is important for all of the other 5Ps to have empathy for the Patient, which should be our primary P.  Healthcare services without empathy for the Patient is like a human being without a soul.

To read this compelling blog from CEO Hall in its entirety, please visit:


Louise Underdahl's picture Louise Underdahl | September 26, 2014 3:51 pm MST

Healthcare services without empathy for the Patient is like a human being without a soul.

Thank you for reaffirming the centrality of compassion, empathy, and engagement.  Boland's (2013) analysis of UCLA Health System's transition from bad to best validates the ethical and operational ramifications of empathy.  Integrating compassion and employee-patient engagement into employee performance expectations catalyzes the concept of ROE, defined as return on engagement.  ROE improves profitability, patient satisfaction, and staff morale - a win/win/win scenario.

Boland, P.  (2013, February).  How a large hospital system profited by putting patients first.  Managed Care.  Retrieved from

jjgillespie's picture | November 17, 2014 9:40 am MST

Louise, Thanks for the great reference to Boland's terrific work.  Boland is right: Empathy can and should translate into improved operational capacity and increased ethical efficacy.  --James

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