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Humanising medicine in practice - examples of good practice

26 April 2024

Humanising medicine is not just a concept, but a practical action to improve healthcare by emphasising the individual needs of each patient. Modern healthcare faces the challenge of integrating modern medical technologies and procedures with warmth, empathy and a personalised approach.

Innovations in patient-staff communication

In an era of digitalisation and progressive change in the healthcare sector, innovations in communication between patients and medical staff are opening up new opportunities for the humanisation of medicine. Modern communication methods and tools are key to building relationships based on trust and understanding, which has a direct impact on the quality and effectiveness of care. 
The development of mobile apps and digital platforms allows patients to more easily access information about their condition, treatment plan and treatment options. This enables patients to participate more actively in the treatment process, with the ability to ask questions, report worrying symptoms or track the progress of treatment in real time. This, in turn, enables medical staff to respond more quickly to patients' needs and adapt care to their individual situation.
Telemedicine is another innovation that significantly affects patient-patient communication. Online consultations, teleportations or remote health monitoring are just some of the possibilities that telemedicine offers. This allows patients, especially those with limited access to medical facilities, to receive professional care without having to leave their homes. Telemedicine also enables better management of chronic diseases and monitoring of patients' long-term health.
The use of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems in medical facilities enables the personalisation of patient communication and care. These systems collect data on patients' medical history, preferences and needs, enabling medical staff to better understand their situation and adapt their therapeutic approach. CRM can also automate certain communication processes, such as reminders for appointments or scheduled tests, which improves the efficiency and effectiveness of care.

Educational programmes for patients and staff

Education plays a key role in the humanisation of medicine, enabling patients and healthcare professionals to better understand and engage in the care process. Successful education programmes not only raise awareness of the importance of humanisation in medicine, but also equip both parties with the tools necessary to build an effective, collaborative relationship. Below are examples of programmes that have been successful in promoting the humanisation of healthcare.

Patient education programmes

  • Patient rights workshops - These programmes focus on informing patients about their rights in the health system, including the right to information about available treatment options, the right to consent to treatment and the right to privacy. For example, workshops may include sessions on understanding medical records, negotiating a care plan or communicating with medical staff.
  • Self-management training - These educational programmes are designed to equip patients with the knowledge and skills necessary to actively participate in the treatment and management of chronic illness. Training may include learning about self-management, symptom monitoring, pain management and effective use of medication.

Educational programmes for staff

  • Interpersonal communication training - These focus on developing the communication skills of healthcare professionals, such as active listening, empathetic responding and clear communication. These programmes emphasise the importance of understanding the patient's perspective and tailoring communication to their needs and level of understanding.
  • Empathy and patient-centred care workshops - These programmes aim to increase staff sensitivity to individual patient needs, emphasising the importance of treating each patient as a unique individual. Workshops can include empathy skills development exercises, simulation scenarios and case studies to help staff better understand the patient experience.
  • Professional development programmes in humanising care - These programmes offer continuing education opportunities for healthcare professionals on the latest patient-centred care practices. They may include online courses, seminars and workshops that update staff on the humanisation of medicine, new technologies to support patient-centred care, and change management strategies in medical facilities.

Practices that support patient autonomy

Patient autonomy, or the right to self-determination in the context of health decisions, is a key element of the humanisation of medicine. Support for patient autonomy contributes to better treatment outcomes, greater involvement in the therapeutic process and increased satisfaction with care. Here are some initiatives and strategies to promote patient autonomy in medical practice.
The basis for supporting patient autonomy is to ensure that the patient has access to comprehensive, understandable and up-to-date information about available treatment options, possible side effects and expected outcomes. This requires medical staff to be able to communicate medical knowledge in a way that is tailored to the patient's needs and level of understanding. For example, the development of educational materials such as brochures, videos or mobile apps that explain medical issues in an accessible way can significantly support patients in making informed decisions.
Involving patients in the care planning process is another way to support their autonomy. This includes not only choosing specific treatments, but also setting therapeutic goals and action plans for different health scenarios. Collaborative care planning allows patients to feel that they have a real influence on the treatment process and that their preferences are important to the medical team.
The use of technology, such as self-monitoring health apps or wearable devices, enables patients to take an active role in managing their own health. Such tools can help track symptoms, the effectiveness of therapies and monitor the progress of treatment, which in turn reinforces a sense of control over one's own health.
Giving patients access to their medical records, for example through electronic health systems, is another step towards supporting their autonomy. Being able to view test results, treatment history or doctors' notes enables patients to better understand their health situation and supports them in taking an active role in their treatment.