25 October

I feel for you

Opinion Artsenkrant Tom Braekeleirs

Earlier this week, I received an invitation from U-Sentric, a Leuven based company specializing in human Centered Design. Theme of the Event: Empathy. I had to consult the etymological dictionary. Apparently, it’s originating from Ancient Greek and means literally translated: feeling passion, so feeling with someone. Here here, learned something new today. But can this be done in healthcare? Should you be a self-experienced expert to be able to sympathize with a patient? I don’t think so...

But, a bit of human touch cannot hurt. In the future it will probably be the greatest added value in care. We live in a time where technology is evolving faster than we often want. I already wrote about Biomind in radiology, but there are still numerous examples of technologies that will dramatically change the life of doctors and all care professionals by extension. Artificial intelligence, sensors and IOT, Massive Data (big data is so 2010), and all other goodies...

Imagine for a moment, in a future not so far way, when a patient can be diagnosed with any disease imaginable by AI. Will 'The Computer' explain to the patient what needs to be done? Or will we leave this to humans? Empathy then suddenly becomes a skillset, which each self-respecting care professional will need to have. Just to avoid getting into scenarios like in Little Britain. In this TV show, David Walliams plays an ever-annoying-grumpy-cat-faced administrative clerk, named Carol Beer. Her answer to any question is always: "Computer Says No." If there is one thing you don’t want to hear when you are at the doctor’s office with the doubt whether you will live or die, it might be those exact words.

But do we check this skillset with people who are starting their education right now? Did anyone say admission exam?

It seems a very simple sentence, 4 words: "I feel for you." And maybe we should learn to use them a bit more. Just to beat the computer to it.

This opinion article from Tom Braekeleirs was published in Dutch in Artsenkrant.

Source photo: Artsenkrant, © lev dolgachov