Written by: Brian Boyle, Review by: Kristin Baird
In my role as a healthcare consultant, I often say, “We are human beings caring for human beings.” I am always looking for stories from caregivers or patients that serve to illustrate the point. In his book, The Patient Experience: The Importance of Care, Communication, and Compassion in the Hospital Room, Brian Boyle provides not just stories, but thought provoking questions that I believe will help everyone in healthcare connect, or reconnect to their purpose.
Brian has become an advocate for compassionate care after his involvement in a near-fatal car accident that resulted in two months in Intensive Care. His goal is not just to offer a patient and family member perspective, but to help caregivers use that perspective to improve the care they provide. Some of the chapters are overly long and others are a little choppy. The powerful imagery and genuine emotion make it worth the read, particularly when Brian talks about how important a positive attitude and positive body language from the care team can be. Two in particular really struck me: “Their cheerful presence was similar to the sun’s power to create an illuminating ray of comfort on a cold and dreary day.” “…a smile represents more than just a facial expression…It is a symbol of compassion, of hope, of support.”
There’s more to the book than Brian’s personal story. He is very deliberate in his methodology; first, by avoiding any negative aspects of his care, and second, by ending each chapter with suggestions and reflective questions for health care providers. Answering the questions using the space provided in Part 5 of the book, is somewhat like journaling, which is a practice that may resonate with some, but not with others. If journaling isn’t your thing, I would recommend using the questions as part of a discussion group instead. Brian’s discussion about the importance of talking to the patient and his or her family (Chapter 9), is really well done. He goes so far as to provide a list of topics to consider using as a way to build a solid bond between caregivers, patients, and families. Don’t just read the chapter – get creative with how you can use the list and the examples, in your training and coaching programs.
Whether you use this book as a journal, a group discussion guide, a training and coaching reference, or in silent reflection, I expect the concepts presented will have an impact on the care, communication, and compassion you provide.