In the US, we are pushed to be more productive, to see more patients and make more revenue, and this leads to seeing patients as a blur. Petty rules are enforced strictly with no flexibility for patients who need it. We saw patients almost as interchangeable. These are systems of industrial health care, structured by policies and procedures that discourage people from noticing. In these systems, both the patient and the clinician become dehumanized, which creates a vicious cycle of cruelty and lack of empathy for each other. When we do take the time to connect with patients and care, it is almost by accident.
To counter industrial health care, we need to see people in high definition. The next health system has to be efficient and sustainable, but the priority should be on its mission, holding itself accountable to patients and not to payers. We don’t often use the word “love” to describe the doctor-patient relationship, but when we take the time to be fully present and emotionally available with each other, this type of love is healing for both parties.