Higher EQ = Better Communication (And Fewer Lawsuits)


EQ HealthcareEmotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to identify and manage your own and others’ emotions. While this is important in any business, it is especially integral in the healthcare industry.

Other than better bedside manner, what does EQ have to do with medical care, you may ask? According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 40% of patients who unexpectedly returned after an initial primary care visit had been misdiagnosed, and almost 80% of the misdiagnoses were tied to problems in doctor-patient communication.

That’s not okay.

Considering the typical doctor’s office visit involves 15 minutes or less with a physician, it isn’t surprising that communication is a problem. Unfortunately, the U.S. faces a growing shortage of primary care physicians, so 15-minute interactions are likely to remain the norm.

So, how can doctors improve patient communication within such limited interaction? By upping their EQ. A study published in Academic Medicine showed that as doctor’s attention to feelings, empathetic concern, and degree of perspective taking – all factors of EQ – increased, so did the quality of doctor-patient communication.

Needless to say, increased communication can lead to better patient outcomes as well as fewer malpractice lawsuits. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine compared physicians’ patient satisfaction survey scores with unsolicited complaints and risk management episodes. It found that, compared to doctors in the highest third of patient satisfaction, doctors in the middle third had 26% higher rates of malpractice lawsuits, and patients in the lowest third had 110% higher rates. What a difference!

Higher EQ also leads to better handoffs and transitions between shifts and departments as well as better healthcare leaders. Learn more and find out what techniques coaches can employ for more emotionally intelligent (and safer) healthcare workers.