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Patient Experience Week: A Focus on Empathy

By Rohit Uppal, MD, MBA, Chief Clinical Officer, Hospitalist Services


Patient Experience Week provides an opportunity to celebrate and honor our TeamHealth clinicians for the important work they do every day to ensure our patients and communities receive the best possible healthcare. At TeamHealth, our focus on leadership and culture ensures that our teams are patient-centered and service-oriented. Placing skilled and highly trained physician leaders in our programs drives our consistent performance on patient experience.

While the pandemic has increased our patients’ feelings of anxiety and fear, TeamHealth clinicians have continued to provide vital care. During times like these, meeting the needs of patients and families with empathy is essential. As clinicians, we must link patient experience and empathy.


We know that patient care devoid of empathy results in patients who are unlikely to follow through with treatment recommendations, resulting in poorer outcomes and damaged trust. We also know that this key human competency can be taught. Empathetic medical care is associated with improved adherence to treatment recommendations, better clinical outcomes, fewer medical errors and higher clinician satisfaction.

Ensuring our clinicians receive enough care, support and empathy from their organization and leaders is essential for them to provide high-quality and empathetic care. This understanding is at the core of our efforts to create supportive practice environments for our clinician teams and our programs to promote clinician wellness.

Empathy can also help us overcome conscious and unconscious biases and leads to more equitable care. It is a key component of our Diversity & Inclusion program.

APEX: The Care Experience

TeamHealth leaders from across the country developed our innovative APEX program. The program delivers high-yield education that enables busy clinicians to implement key skills that allow them to improve patient experience, deliver empathy and create trusting relationships with patients. APEX guides leaders and teams to implement key programmatic elements that are necessary to support sustained success and continuous improvement.

The TeamHealth APEX program supports our top three strategic priorities:

  • Delivering best-in-class clinical quality care and patient safety. How we communicate – and the experience we create for our patients – plays an integral role in keeping our patients safe and providing them with the best possible clinical outcomes. Our team members know effective communication makes them better clinicians. This is because they understand that earning the patient’s trust is an essential skill that leads to improved patient outcomes.
  • Clinician engagement. The ability to communicate effectively translates into essential skills for professional growth and development. These skills allow clinicians to grow personally, professionally and as leaders in their hospitals and communities. As clinicians improve their communication skills, job satisfaction improves, resilience increases and the risk of burnout diminishes.
  • Supporting the success of our hospital partners. Our expertise in patient experience directly affects value-based purchasing (VBP) performance, which significantly impacts our hospital partners’ bottom lines. Patient experience allows hospitals to stand out in a competitive market, improve patient loyalty and expand market share. Therefore, our communication skills ensure that we contribute to a culture of high reliability and safety within the hospital.

Patient Experience Week gives me an opportunity to reflect on and appreciate the hard work and dedication of our clinicians. I hope clinicians nationwide can find a moment this week to celebrate your accomplishments and remind yourself of your purpose as an individual and as a part of the healthcare community.