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Don't Underestimate Emotional Intelligence

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, March 6, 2014

"With so many different provider touch points, it's harder to manage the patient throughout their continuum," says Zipp. "How do doctors "handshake" over patients? How is information delivered in a culturally competent manner?"


 Care Coordination Tough to Define, Measure


All key questions that need to be answered when considering not only a partnership, says Zipp, but also within a hospital's walls, from intake to nurse, from nurse to physician, etc. With each transition is an opportunity to win over or lose confidence with patients and their families.

The heightened awareness of patient experience and patient satisfaction has led hospital leaders to focus on communication techniques with patients. White boards in patients' rooms that identify the clinical care staff by name and spell out what to expect in treatment have become a common tool to close the communication gap between the hospital staff and patients.

Physicians' Emotional Intelligence
Paying more attention to patients' needs is a step in the right direction, says Zipp, but thinks that doctors need to go further. He says what medical schools have referred to as cultural competence is now known as emotional intelligence, and his goal is to raise it among the residents he oversees and physicians he works with.

"In the residency program I run, I teach them to consider the patient as a whole," explains Zipp, who tells residents to consider the biological, psychological, and social wellbeing of a patient. "We are all sculpted by our experiences… but I think it is also something that is teachable and learnable."

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