Emotional intelligence is a concept that has been around for a very long time. Throughout today's corporate landscape, emotional intelligence is known as an essential quality for providing effective leadership. In the healthcare industry, emotional intelligence is known as EQ, and has been limited to strictly face to face interactions between patients and caregivers. However, there is much more to this concept.
What is EQ?
There have been many articles written about EQ based on business and social science research. Daniel Goleman has mentioned that EQ is the capacity of individuals to recognize their own emotions and the emotions of other people. EQ also allows people to tell the difference between feelings and appropriately label them and to use their emotional information to influence their thinking and behavior. Patricia Harmon described EQ as the ability to control your emotions in sensing, understanding and responding to social cues in your environment. Psychologists Peter Salovey and John Mayer believe that EQ is the ability to accurately perceive your own and other people's emotions, to understand the different signals that emotions symbolize about relationships, and to manage your emotions. The psychologists feel that EQ is about the capability of an individual to understand the feelings of those around them while responding in the correct manner.
EQ In The Health Care Field
Health care is behind other industries in applying EQ across the large scope of patient care activities. The majority of research has primarily focused on physician-patient interactions that show a direct correlation between low EQ on the part of physicians and increasing rates of error and lawsuits, low patient satisfaction and negative outcomes compared to physicians with a high EQ. Research also shows that there is a positive correlation to physician EQ and job satisfaction. If the physician EQ improves, they are more satisfied with their job and their fatigue decreases. Recently, the MCAT test, which is seen as a guide to medical training, was changed to add a section on physician EQ. This has lead to organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and UCSF have placed an added emphasis on the EQ of their staffs.
However, EQ in patient care involves more than just interactions between patients and physicians. In most organizations, areas of EQ impact are not properly addressed. With the health system heading to value-based incentives that depend on team centered methods of care delivery and the use of technologies in care coordination, treatment, and diagnosis. A systemic approach to EQ should be thoughtful. The system requires more than a measurement of patient complaints along with the intervention of difficult physicians.
The EQ Hotspots in Hospital Care
The location where a physician trained for their undergraduate medical education and did their residency is important. Academic programs that do not take their EQ seriously are becoming more popular. These academic programs that limit EQ training to physician personality testing do not address the total impact that low EQ has on patient care.
The relationship between caregivers who work in team based models is intriguing at the moment. Physicians have become inclined to believe that teams are important, as long as they are team captain. Too frequently the input of nutritionists, pharmacists, nurses, and mental health counselors is declining due to the influence of the captain. Often times, patient care is compromised because their input is not important as a result of low EQ.
Every health care organization is based on patient adherence to avoiding financial penalties and adding payments from Medicare, among others. Re-admissions, emergency department visits, purchasing incentives, savings in accountable care organizations, and multiple programs that require health systems to focus on analyzing what patients do. The central figure in most health systems could be health coaches; the high EQ educators and nurses who have been trained to listen to information from patients that help provide windows to their values, abilities, and needs. Different college programs train health coaches to interact both in person and telephonically so that coaching has been optimized. The primary focus is coaching EQ.
The realities of the normal is that a large percentage of the interaction between caregivers and patients will be available through social networks, chat rooms, and television. Learning how to probe under patients' questions, build patient confidence, engage patients as people beyond signs and symptoms queries requires a system of EQ.
Using a System Approach To EQ In HealthCare
An organization that does not take EQ in patient care seriously may be at risk of poor clinical and financial performance. A culture that has low EQ is tolerated because its patient care activity may lead to poor outcomes, avoidable errors, and a lack of patient satisfaction.
Taking EQ in patient care means more than a physician disciplinary effort to eliminate clinicians that are dysfunctional. EQ requires more than checklists that target lapses in care coordination or error detection, as well as protocols. EQ has an impact on every encounter with people and their families who want help. This requires an investment in tools and training to analyze and monitor different EQ activities. Leadership is important because it can address lapses in EQ with regards to patient care. Caring is the most important factor in regards to applying patient care.