2017 CMS Annual Meeting - Care Equity Project
Kate Alfano, CMS Communications Coordinator
Physicians can deploy skills of hospitality and listening to better connect with patients
The Care Equity Project – a partnership between physicians, public health professionals and stage performers – presented a general session and workshop during the CMS Annual Meeting that informed attendees about the adverse health effects and challenges of navigating the health care system while living in poverty. The interactive session began with an actor portrayal of these challenges. One character in the portrayal demonstrated the emotional drain on physicians and practice staff when caring for this population.
Betty Hart, special projects coordinator, arts integrated resources, Kaiser Permanente, explained that physicians can deploy the skill of hospitality – making a person feel welcome – to patients and co-workers, shifting from person to person how hospitality is presented. “This requires more from us than ‘service’ because we can give service on autopilot,” she said.
“One of the keys to demonstrating positive, strong hospitality is listening. Studies show that patients want 60-90 seconds of uninterrupted listening from their care providers. And we don’t give it to them. Why? Time constraints, fear of losing control, vulnerability to their emotions, efficiency, the feeling that physicians need to solve all problems. Listening takes time but saves time, and patients are asking for us to listen,” Hart said.
A tool to listen differently is the “ABCD” method: Always be collecting dots. Dots are pieces of information that you hear that require the listener to synthesize. There are surface dots, the things you hear out loud, and deeper dots, the things not necessarily said in words but demonstrated by actions. “Collecting dots is about listening to the person, not what society tells us about this person,” she said.
Attendees then paired up for an exercise where they listened to their partner speak for one minute, then repeated back the “dots” they had gathered. “Whether easy or not, I hope you can see how powerful that minute is,” Hart concluded. “That minute will make patients feel much more connected to you.”