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How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the process of humanising medicine?

6 November 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic, which broke out in December 2019, has had a huge impact on our lives. With the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, people around the world have been forced to adapt to a new reality. One area that has suffered and evolved as a result of the pandemic is medicine.
The pandemic that has swept the world in recent years has brought with it not only medical challenges, but also complex social and cultural aspects. One of the key areas that has suffered and at the same time had to adapt to the new realities is the humanisation of medicine. This process, which focuses on treating patients with empathy and respect, has become even more crucial in the face of a pandemic.


Telemedicine, being a result of the dynamic development of technology, has significantly influenced the process of humanising medicine, introducing new opportunities and challenges. While it might initially seem that remote communication could lead to the loss of the human element in the doctor-patient relationship, it has turned out that telemedicine can actually enhance the humanistic aspects of healthcare.

By providing convenient and secure communication tools, telemedicine enables patients to access medical care in a more accessible and comfortable way. Patients, especially those living in remote regions or suffering from chronic conditions, can receive medical consultations without having to travel. This eliminates the need for long and tiring journeys and saves time and money.

Furthermore, telemedicine can be particularly beneficial in crisis situations such as a pandemic. It can avoid unnecessary visits to medical facilities, eliminating the risk of infection. Patients can consult a doctor in the safe environment of their home, which is extremely important for infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

It is worth emphasising that in developing telemedicine, it is necessary to balance the use of technology with the preservation of humanity in the relationship between patient and medical staff. Ultimately, telemedicine can support the humanisation of medicine, enabling doctors to focus on patients' needs and providing convenient tools to build a relationship based on understanding, empathy and respect. With access to accurate patient medical information, doctors can make more informed decisions and tailor care to each patient's individual needs.

Isolation of patients

The isolation of COVID-19 patients from their families and relatives was one of the most difficult aspects of the pandemic. While understandable from a safety perspective, this limitation had a significant impact on the process of humanising medicine. Patients, especially those in hospitals due to the severity of COVID-19, often experienced feelings of loneliness and isolation.

For many patients, the support of family and loved ones is an indispensable part of the recovery process. It is the parents, children, spouses or friends who are a source of emotional support and a sense of security. Isolation from loved ones may have led to feelings of loneliness and anxiety, which in turn may have had a negative impact on the patients' mental state.

In addition, the lack of contact with relatives during hospitalisation can lead to difficulties in communication between medical staff and the patient. The family often acts as a translator, passing on information about the patient's condition or helping to express their needs. The isolation of patients may have made these processes more difficult.

In response to these challenges, medical staff took various measures to support patients and minimise the negative effects of isolation. Telemedicine technologies enabled visual contact with the family through video conferencing. In addition, staff sought to provide additional emotional support to patients by showing understanding and empathy.

The isolation of patients from family and loved ones was a difficult but necessary measure during the pandemic. However, these events highlighted how important the role of the family is in humanising medicine.

Fight against disinformation

The pandemic brought with it an epidemic of misinformation. False information about the virus, drugs, vaccines and treatments spread at an alarming rate. This created not only a health problem, but also affected the treatment process. Patients were often misinformed, which could lead to inappropriate health decisions. Medical staff had to act not only as doctors, but also as sources of reliable information, educating patients about COVID-19.

Loss of contact with family: One of the most painful aspects of the pandemic was the reduction in contact between patients and their families and relatives. For safety reasons, hospital visits were restricted and patients often had to cope in isolation. This posed a major challenge in terms of the humanisation of medicine, as family support plays an important role in the recovery process. Medical staff had to act as intermediaries, allowing patients to interact with their relatives through video conferencing and other technologies.

Strengthening empathy and communication. The pandemic has led medical staff to enhance empathy and effective communication skills. Talking to patients about complex and often frightening issues, such as isolation or the need for a ventilator, became a key part of care. Medical staff needed to be able to adapt to patients' changing needs and provide appropriate emotional support.