FHC #114: An unfiltered look at empathy in medicine

This “Unfiltered” episode of Fixing Healthcare welcomes back Dr. Jonathan Fisher, a respected cardiologist and renowned advocate for physician well-being. Today’s show leads with an up-close look at a subject near and dear to Dr. Fisher’s heart, literally.

“Empathy resides in the emotional heart, and it also has impacts on the physical heart and the physiologic heart, as well,” says Dr. Fisher adding that, “empathy helps steady the heart, lower heart rate, lower stress and, in the exam room, can even lower blood pressure.”

As part of the conversation, Fixing Healthcare cohost Dr. Robert Pearl introduced a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association over the summer that got many in medical profession talking. Here’s how Dr. Pearl described it in a recent Forbes article:

“Researchers compared doctor and AI responses to nearly 200 medical questions submitted by patients via social media. The answers were read by a team of healthcare professionals who didn’t know whether the author was a doctor or a bot. The team concluded that 80% of the AI-generated responses as more nuanced, accurate and detailed than those shared by physicians. But most surprising was ChatGPT’s bedside manner. While less than 5% of doctor responses were judged to be ‘empathetic’ or ‘very empathetic,’ that figure shot up to 45% for answers provided by AI.”

Today’s show explores the importance of empathy and how healthcare professionals—many of whom suffer an erosion of empathy due to high stress and burnout—can better express their emotions with others, including their colleagues and patients.

To discover more, press play and check out these helpful links:

Presale: ‘Just One Heart’ (Jonathan Fisher’s new book)

Doctors Vs. ChatGPT: Which Is More Empathetic? (Forbes)

Do you have the emotional intelligence it takes to be a great hospital leader? (Becker’s Hospital Review)

How AI, Empathy, & Capitation Can Transform Healthcare (Speaking Of Podcast)

Breaking The Rules Of Healthcare (LinkedIn)

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Fixing Healthcare is a co-production of Dr. Robert Pearl and Jeremy Corr. Subscribe to the show via Apple Podcasts or wherever you find podcasts. Join the conversation or suggest a guest by following the show on Twitter and LinkedIn.