Abstract: Compassionate technology is redefining standards of care in healthcare, both improving patient outcomes and strengthening the bond between care providers and their patients.
Today, our capacity for empathy and compassion doesn’t just begin in our hearts and minds and end at our fingertips. It now extends to the technology that we hold in our hands.
In healthcare, the vast majority of hospitals now prioritize patient and family centered care: an approach to healthcare that places patients and families as allies for quality and safety. More organizations openly recognize the critical role that empathy plays in reducing pain, suffering, and adverse outcomes.
Yet, the intersection between technology, the caregiver-patient relationship, and compassion is only just being recognized as a critical component to driving positive patient outcomes.
Enter: Compassion tech.
- Compassionate technology are products or services developed by human-centered design principles, inspired by lived experience and created to protect, heal, and comfort with compassionate applications as a top priority.
- Healthcare leaders will be challenged with redefining the standards of care that come with the medical device, pharmaceutical, and medical technology products they adopt.
- While compassionate technology is now a competitive advantage, it will soon become the baseline for standard care delivery.
Compassion Driven Innovation
Compassion tech was first used in healthcare to refer to digital health technologies designed to improve the patient experience by helping caregivers to better recognize, understand, and resonate with a patient's needs, concerns, pain, or suffering.
Outside of digital technologies, there is no better place to let compassion drive innovation than on the healthcare technologies and products that directly touch the patient: IV-lines, dressings, incision care and more.
The question can, and should be asked:
Can widely used medical technologies like IV-lines, dressings and more be reinvented to become more compassionate and improve patient outcomes?
The answer is yes.
As more hospitals look to strengthen their patient-centered care mandates, adding compassion to their mission and values and adopting new practices to improve patient outcomes, compassion tech requires leaders to redefine their requirements for healthcare tools and technology.
Compassion in Healthcare
Compassion means “to suffer together,” and is an emotional response to the perceived suffering of another human.
“Healthcare devices and technology that create stress and pain - such as a dressing that causes a painful and cringeworthy removal - lead to suffering in both the care provider and the patient. We need to be bold enough to imagine a world where healing doesn’t hurt.”
- Brian Pedlar, CEO, Covalon.”
Compassionate Technology: Healing Patients and Providers
Promoting more compassion in medicine beyond just the attitudes and actions of care providers is a worthwhile pursuit.
Medical device and pharmaceutical companies need to be called upon to prioritize compassionate design principles that:
- Favor the connection between care providers and patients
- Fill experience gaps where patients face pain, fear, trauma, or suffering
- Listen to the lived experiences of care providers and patients
- Come from a deep, genuine intent to do good: to protect, comfort, save, and heal
- Elevate the standard of care to reduce adverse outcomes and experiences
Healing shouldn’t hurt, yet harmful experiences happen that leave a lasting impact on patients and their care providers:
- An estimated 1.2 million patients are harmed by medical errors made in U.S. hospitals
- 1 out of every 25 hospitalized patients are affected by a Hospital Acquired Infection (HAI)
- Healthcare worker burnout rates range from 40% to 70%
Healthcare is a life line, and with the right technology in the hands of the frontline, infections can be prevented, wounds can be closed and incisions healed all while trauma, pain, and suffering is reduced.
Compassionate Healthcare Technology in Action
Compassionate technology puts the needs of patients at the center of design: safety, comfort, confidence, and freedom are prioritized. It recognizes the connection between the patient and caregiver bond: designed for patients, made for care providers.
Compassionate technology is the difference between a cringeworthy IV dressing removal that tears at skin and leaves a sticky, stinging aftermath and an IV dressing removal that doesn’t wake a sleeping premature baby in the NICU.
Compassionate technology is the difference between a sick child being restricted by unprotected IV lines for fear of contamination, and giving parents and care providers the reassurance the lines are guarded, and that a child receiving treatment can be free to move with a low risk of a blood-stream infection ever happening.
Compassionate technology is the difference between a new mom who is struggling to keep her C-section incision from opening and a mom who’s provided with a transparent dressing that promotes undisturbed healing.
Technology can be designed to powerfully favor the most vulnerable - to favor connection, hope, healing, and understanding. And this is the wave of healthcare innovation that will leave a lasting mark.