“Sending a patient to do battle with cancer without any training is like parachuting a soldier into the jungle without the benefit of survival training.” —Michael Lerner, president, Commonwealth
In this age of rapid healthcare delivery, the big C can be overlooked when it comes to caring and communicating with cancer patients. The C I’m referring to is Compassion. In fact, there’s another C here — the Caregiver — they also seek compassion when interfacing with their oncology healthcare team.
While it is important that the patient and his or her team understand the planned treatment and the possible side effects, some people do not feel comfortable talking with a doctor. They may be afraid of asking a silly question. They may be worried that they won’t understand what the doctor is saying. This is an aspect of healthcare that is not likely to change.
No matter how advanced technology becomes, the human response to “you’ve got cancer” will be just that, human, including shock, fear, confusion, and an inability to consume most of the information being provided to them by their doctor. These are predictable responses that beg for compassionate communication and care, especially in an increasingly technological world.
In fact, according to the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Care, “...Many caregivers today are anxious, frustrated and under pressure – with no structured outlet for expressing their feelings and little preparation for the difficult communication issues that are an inevitable part of patient care."
As you create patient engagement content, keep in mind that there are common dynamics that happen between doctor and patient that perpetuate a lack of effective communication, and we, as marketers, can help empower a change through authentic, honest communication and education. Here are some common patient pitfalls:
Here are some suggestions from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship to help us help patients and caregivers prepare:
Most of us know that cancer patients deserve compassion, and are looking for it. And most of us know that communication is essential in a healthy doctor-patient relationship. By considering these two Cs together we can bridge an existing gap, and a gap that technology alone will never bridge.