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What is the humanisation of medicine?

10 May 2023

Preserving the dignity, respecting the rights and cultural conditions of the patient, proper communication with the patient are the pillars of the humanisation of medicine. They are the basis for building a proper patient-doctor relationship, which directly translates into treatment outcomes.

The humanisation of medicine is a deep, committed and caring view of the patient that takes into account both his or her health and spiritual needs and respects the dignity, rights and cultural aspects of the treatment process.

The humanisation of medicine is based on a good patient-physician relationship. It motivates medics to look at the health, spiritual and emotional needs of the patient in a professional, but above all empathetic way. The aim of humanising medicine is to build a sense of security for the patient, but also to give them the opportunity to co-determine what their treatment path looks like. Thus, it contributes to improving the quality of medical care and builds patient trust in healthcare professionals, including not only the doctors themselves, but also nurses, paramedics and other staff in hospitals and medical facilities.

Relationship building and proper communication with the patient

In the context of the humanisation of medicine, the patient should be treated by the medical professional with respect for his or her rights and dignity. The medical professional should strive to create a relationship with the patient based on mutual respect and trust, taking into account the patient's individual needs, clinical and emotional state and cultural background. He or she should treat the patient as a partner to whom he or she devotes time and with whom he or she shares his or her knowledge, experience and emotional support, and offer institutional support if required. 

In the health care system, the concept of the 'claiming patient' or 'claiming family' has recently emerged, demanding that the medical practitioner pay attention, provide comprehensive information and be involved in the treatment process.

In everyday practice, it is unfortunately the case that, in the health care system, the patient is treated as just another case of illness that has to be diagnosed, treated and discharged home. In their work, medics still give too little thought to the individual situation of the patient, the context of the illness, the emotions experienced by the patient and his or her relatives.

The idea of humanising medicine focuses on the patient not being treated as just another record in a database of 'people to be admitted and sent home'. This approach to the patient and their loved ones builds inappropriate patient-physician relationships based on anger, uncertainty, malaise and a sense of humiliation.

The doctor working with each patient should aim to develop a relationship and communication with the patient in which the patient feels informed, well cared for and understood. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to involve not only the doctors themselves, but also all the medical personnel who accompany the patient from the moment of making an appointment at the outpatient clinic or registering at the hospital ward, right through to the persons discharging the patient from the hospital or giving him/her the final instructions. The patient needs to know that the people involved in his or her treatment are open to his or her questions and concerns and are willing, committed and caring to help when he or she needs it.