Listening Is Powerful Medicine

I often write of the importance of relationship and trust in healthcare (in healing and dying journeys). And how when we position clinicians and patients in this way, whole stories can be told, heard, listened to, and understood for optimal connection, impact, and healing.

Thus I was thrilled when Philippa Göranson shared the following from npr with me earlier today …


Commentary heard on npr Weekend Edition Sunday by Alicia Conill


Excerpts from this powerful piece:

“Studies have shown it takes a physician about 18 seconds to interrupt a patient after he begins talking.”

“Listening to someone’s story costs less than expensive diagnostic testing but is key to healing and diagnosis.”

“Each story is different. Some are detailed; others are vague. Some have a beginning, middle and end. Others wander without a clear conclusion. Some are true; others not. Yet all those things do not really matter. What matters to the storyteller is that the story is heard — without interruption, assumption or judgment.”

“I tell them I believe in the power of listening. I tell them I know firsthand that immeasurable healing takes place within me when someone stops, sits down and listens … .”


Thank you Dr. Conill for such an important lesson and for leading and serving as you faced your own health challenge.


The lesson for the rest of us healthcare leaders is to ensure all ‘innovations’ in healthcare, all new policy, each and every new patient experience and patient engagement strategy, each focus on creating a safe space, a safe place for both clinician and patient & family to authentically connect, share stories, listen to understand, and together co-create a care path (shared decision-making) for optimal healing (or dying) journey.

Anything less is a disservice (and worse) to all those we serve.





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