Why do the Words you use with patients matter?

The evolving science of interpersonal neurophysiology gives us insights into how the relationship between a healthcare provider and the patient can change the outcome. The words you use and how you use them create an experience that can either facilitate or hinder your treatment.  Although this seems obvious to some, many organizations fail to integrate these essential skills into the patient experience.

The human brain is a complex meaning machine designed to “make sense” of the experience.  Humans are social beings and have evolved in the context of social groups and psychological constructs that have enabled tremendous advancements.  This “socialness” is enabled with a brain that is designed to connect with others, interpret intentions, and “feel” the emotions of others. These neural mechanisms are the foundation of successful human interaction.  

  • When healthcare providers understand this concept, they recognize that what they communicate (words, tone of voice, body language) all contribute to the patient’s experience, and strive to learn the necessary communication skills to connect with patients.
  • When healthcare leaders understand this concept, they recognize the need to engage with colleagues in a manner that inspires performance to meet organizational and personal goals.
  • When healthcare organizations understand this concept, they design cultures and systems to better engage all members of the organization to alignment to the organization’s Values and Mission.

As the Healthcare System rapidly shifts toward a value-based reimbursement model, providers and organizations must find innovative ways to engage patients to actively participate in their own care.  This will require that all healthcare providers learn the skills that connect with patients, their teams and the desired outcome.

It is time to improve healthcare by helping providers improve the skills that get results.