Compassionomics ~ book review

How a little compassion can transform a whole industry and lift the lives of millions in the process.

It is fair to say that I would never have picked up this book had it not been for the executive leadership at one of our portfolios who spoke highly of it. Transformative they said, wait until Chapter 8 they said. They were not wrong.

The premise of the book is simple – if the patient truly believes the provider has their best interests at heart, genuinely caring about the outcome, then the patient will have a measured improvement, including taking the providers advice as well as maintaining any prescriptions.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Yet anyone that has been through the healthcare system, will know only too well, which providers treated you like a number, and which ones treated you like a human.

The book is packed full of stories (both patient and provider) and research data illustrating how a little compassion can make a huge difference all around. This includes the provider. Forget the stereotype of grumpy old doctor, research has shown that compassion both given and received has a net improvement all around, including aiding with reducing burnout in providers.

As for Chapter 8 – was it worth it? You bet. The authors outline, through a series of independent studies, that the extra time required by a provider to show the patient some compassion was only 40 seconds on average. Yes, that is all it took, to change the dynamic between doctor and patience.

One of the interesting observations that came out a number of times throughout the book, is how the perception of the doctor, caring, has changed through the years. We used to have the image of the doctor, intently caring, listening to everything we say and do, while they come up with their diagnosis.

Nowadays however, that perception has changed, to where we the patient only see the Doctors back, as they type furiously into their EHR software, or searching up symptoms, with the continued feeling that the patient is intruding or getting in the way. This is not showing compassion.

The authors show, again through many different studies, how the lack of compassion is costing us all much extra cost – misdiagnosis and wasted prescriptions that are ignored are some of the reasons. There is so many eye-popping statistics scattered throughout, that to repeat them here, would only spoil it.

While the book is solely focused on the healthcare industry, there is no doubt, the findings from it, can be applied to any industry. How compassion can come in many different forms and be applied in many different ways, with no real formulae or set of rules to simply follow.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable book, easily paced with lots of relatable stories, especially if you have been (or had a family member) recently go through the healthcare system.

If you prefer to listen to a podcast episode, with the authors themselves, they were on Freakonomics a couple of years back.

Author: Alan Williamson

CTO | Partner | Investor | Java Champion | Author | Podcaster | Speaker | Architect

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