Compassionate care may be the best medicine, a study suggests. Researchers at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education found that when health care workers approach patients with compassion and kindness, those receiving the care often healed faster and felt less pain and anxiety.

While medicine has the power to cure, how the care is delivered can have a powerful effect on the patient and the caregiver.

Putting patients at the center of their health care journey is critical to ensuring they have the best outcome possible, according to Amy Vance, senior vice president of population health and value-based care at Novant Health.

“ Our research shows that the majority of patients judge their health care experience primarily on the relationships they have with their caregivers,” Vance said. “So, to make health care remarkable, we have to make that promise a reality for our patients by connecting with them and their families in ways that are authentic and genuine to them, because really all they want is you.”

Because of their training, many health care providers approach their patient interactions on performing clinical tasks. “We ask our team members to start from the heart,” Vance said. “We believe that we need to make our work come to life by aligning the solutions with a very intentional focus on relationships and connections at a human level. In starting from the heart, Novant Health caregivers are asked to consider kindness, compassion, dignity and respect when engaging with patients.”

Novant Health team members train to deliver compassionate care. Nursing team members receive training called Compassionate Connected Care (C3), a model that focuses on addressing unmet patient needs. 

“The foundation of our model is that the patient is always at the center of every decision,” Vance said. “Everything we do is designed to make the experience simpler and more convenient for our patients so they can focus on getting better.”

The emphasis is on allowing doctors and nurses to have the time to build personalized relationships with patients. Part of the nursing transformation permits nurses to have more time to spend on direct patient care.

The care of the patient may start with the provider, but it is supported by an entire team. The provider leads the care team, providing that immediate medical, physical and emotional support while with the patient, as well as developing and managing the patient’s treatment plan.

The team of professional caregivers supporting the provider includes nurses for clinical support, or patient teaching, particularly with patients suffering from chronic conditions such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , congestive heart failure or multiple illnesses. Pharmacists, social workers, dietitians and referral coordinators also round out the care team, creating a comprehensive support for the patient.

Novant Health’s team-based approach allows a patient to experience continuity of care.

The Stanford study, which was released in 2014, found that patients who felt a greater connection with their care provider were more likely to follow through with their care plan. Novant Health takes this a step further by connecting discharged patients with care coordinators. Those coordinators will call and email patients to see if they understand their care plan or have questions. The coordinators can teach the patient about ways to avoid infection, direct them to available resources, evaluate their progress and potential adverse effects and determine if the patient is taking prescribed medications.

By not overlooking the human touch, Novant Health team members aim to deliver speedy recoveries and healthy outcomes.