“Empathy”: new video from Cleveland Clinic

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Thoreau

Yesterday I spoke in Las Vegas at the Dignity Health Patient Experience Summit. They started with this four minute video, released recently by the Cleveland Clinic, titled “Empathy.” It’s so powerful that I found myself in tears, seriously, as I watched. It starts with those words from Thoreau.

I think without exception everyone who wants to improve medicine should watch this, including people on the patient side, the provider side, insurance, government, media, everyone. It reminds me of the “Walking Gallery of Healthcare” from Regina Holliday (Wikipedia) because it makes us conscious of the story that each of us carries around.

Dignity Health is one of the health systems that’s actively retooling itself for the new rules and era of American medicine. Formerly known as Catholic Healthcare West, a few years back they had bottom-of-the-barrel patient satisfaction scores as a chain; new leadership has been pulling things up, making changes where necessary, and they’re now middle-of-the pack, some above 50%ile and some below. My impression is that the current leadership “gets it” and is authentically doing the work, waking people up and producing change.

(Disclaimer: of course, they paid me to speak.)

It’s the second time in a week my feelings have been so deep about a conference video that I’ve cried. The previous one was a week ago in Napa, California. That one was a training video, a re-enactment of actual events that unfolded into a tragedy. It was skillfully produced and so painful that I had to leave the room – it pains me even now to recall watching that story unfold. (It was a meeting of CSHRM, the California Society of Hospital Risk Managers. These people work in the aftermath of medical disasters – well, they don’t call them that, but when there’s a lawsuit or potential one because of a horrible error, I say it’s a disaster. And, naturally, they work to understand causes.

This video has almost 100,000 views in its first two weeks, and I’m sure it’s headed for a million. I think it will be important in altering people’s experience of being in a hospital, and that’s a good thing.

29 comments to “Empathy”: new video from Cleveland Clinic

  • We all need to see the world though a lens that includes the people with us on the journey, not just our own perspective. That said, I hope that a high percentage of specialty docs see this – I think some of them have forgotten the precept …

  • Hi Dave, thank you for sharing this video. It is very moving and relevant to the work we are doing around patient centred care. The Health Consumers Alliance of South Australia (HCA) is promoting empathy as one of the four core behaviours of PCC along with kindness, openness and respect. In addition, that these apply to all partners in the healing relationship. Regards, Stephanie

  • David

    I had just read that the single largest indicator of medical treatment isn’t symptoms or patient background it’s the background of the medical specialist themselves…and then I saw this video. Healthcare should be renamed PeopleCare.

  • Kate Grey

    So nice to meet you in person Wednesday, Dave. Thank you for your support and time back in 2010. Your presentation was wonderful – in general, the feedback I’m hearing from peers is that our first Patient Experience Summit was great. I agree. Very energizing. Thank you for posting the video link. I arrived late and didn’t get to see it, so you made it easy for me to watch!

  • I would love to show this video to our staff

  • Kathleen

    As a former director of Patient Family Relations I wish I had this video for my teaching session on “Connecting with Care” Thank you for sharing! I promise to share with my nursing directors…. Don Berwick says “Steal great work shamelessly” so I hope you agree!

  • Carolyn

    I think this is global in its appeal and message.
    I would like nursing and medical students , staff and managment to see this.
    Maybe it should be a commercial that promotes “The Golden Rule” It’s powerful!

  • I seem to have a gift for seeing what patients are feeling..For a time, I thaught every nurse felt the same..!.I have enjoyed ev’ry moment of my 35+ years…it is a different world…never thaught I would see classes for stsff to b nice to patients….I hope this film helps

  • Debbie

    I am a nurse and was caregiver for my husband who died after a three year journey with metastatic prostate cancer. He lived the three best years of his life when he courageously fought the battle. I attribute that to who he was, to the love of family and friends and very importantly to the physicians and clinical staff who cared for him with the greatest empathy and compassion I have ever seen. It was critical and made all the difference in the world to him and me. Now I am on a mission to share what they did and how it mattered, to inspire others to do it.

  • Anne

    Sadly, still not one reference to the medical suffering caused by servere mental illness…for patients and their families…when are we going to begin to be fair about this issue? Imagine the waiting room of a psychiatric facility.

  • Not only we need to instill or more appropriately bring to life empathy in caregivers but also have a system of care for the caregivers. Most people are scared to feel and numbing is the way we all deal with our pain and the pain of others. So, we need a system of caring for the caregivers and then we might be able to extend that to our patients. Brene Brown in her speech at TedTalks gave a great speech on the topic. Highly recommend it. http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html

  • Mary Surface

    Became an RN in 1953, tried to remember to treat patients AND family as
    I’d want to be treated. It’s hard to work in Peds when you have toddlers at home. You also see your Grandmother in your elderly patient (now I’m
    that age.) This video is very good, we never know what “burden” another
    is carrying. Thanks.

  • Amy

    Hi Dave. Thanks for sharing this video for all to see. You reference another video that you saw at a Risk Managers conference in Napa, CA. Do you have access to that video as well or know who would? Thanks again.

  • Bernadette

    This video is very powerful. I work with nursing students in the clinical setting. After watching this video, I sent the link to every student and faculty member for them to view and share.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • I like to share this video with everyone specially at that time of the day when we are so frustrated for the things that did not go the way we wanted. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Kyra

    First I would like to say thank you for the video, it was an eye opening experiencing just watching. I been working in the medical field for over 15yrs and I believe we sometime forget what others may be going through. This video made me stop and just take a moment and look at life a little different. Once again thanks for the eye opener.

  • Kathleen L.

    Great video!We wanted to know what the title of the background music was? Thank you!

  • Susan

    Everyone in healthcare should watch this every week as a reminder…
    So very inspirational and motivating. Awesome video….

  • Chris Bollen

    Hi Dave
    I saw the video 2 years ago and I note our Central Adelaide Local Health Network received permission to remake it with an Adelaide flavour in 2014.
    Do you know of any follow up studies to examine what difference it has made for the consumer experience in the Cleveland Clinic services?
    I am reviewing strategies of transformational change in health care this week, and this one came to mind.
    Keep up the great work

    • e-Patient Dave

      Hi Chris – I do not know of follow-up studies, so I’m guessing the best bet would be to contact whoever gave you that permission. Let us know!

  • […] blogged about this video back then, and some of the comments by providers were pretty potent. Check it out, and join us August 8 if you can … we’ll have a follow-up to this, […]

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