Now Reading: Are You Listening…Are You Really Listening? (it’s the killer app for Health 2.0)

This paper stands up really well on its own as a call to action around listening to patients and their families. It does a nice job of discussing the contribution of communication (or lack thereof) to a safe care experience, with some great quotes included, like this one, attributed to Julie Ann Morath, RN, MS, COO of Children’s Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota:

When you listen, it’s a demonstration of respect, and listening in itself is a healing practice.

The data presented are dramatic : in 77 % of patient/physician interviews, the patient’s true reason for visiting was never elicited. Patients are “redirected” by physicians on average, within 23 seconds.

This is also the hook for Web2.0/Health2.0 because what technology does is allow people to be heard, relative to their Web1.0/Health1.0 counterparts, and this is the action that the authors did not write about:

Actions that CMIO’s/CIO’s can take.

In that section, they would advise these leaders to consider carefully who the customer of their newly funded (maybe legally mandated) electronic health record is.

When they decide that the ultimate customer of the electronic health record is the patient, they would allow access to all of the information about that patient to themselves and those that care for them, privately, securely on line, inpatient or outpatient.

How does a personal health record promote listening?

When care providers open their electronic doors to questions about care, or questions about anything based on facts in their care that they can now access, listening becomes less of a choice – patients will ask questions about what they see and we’ll want to make sure they understand what we’re presenting to them in their electronic health records. This is what my colleague at Kaiser Permanente, Mark Snyder, MD, describes when he says the printed After Visit Summary “is a process, not a souvenir.” I wrote an example of this process here – I like that it gives you no option but to listen.

I found myself agreeing with a lot of the ideas written here, especially the one that the patient and their family are one of the most powerful barriers to harm in health care. The authors state it here:

“The hospital’s deepest resource of care information is patients and their families; this is because these people have the ability to share core root cause information, from symptom to outcome, that can drive the quality and safety of care in hospitals.”

And I said it almost exactly the same way in this month’s AHRQ Web M&M Spotlight Case.

Toward the end of the article, the authors write that this is not another paper that should collect dust on the shelve of a few “Safety Geeks.” Based on what I’ve been doing and what I saw most recently at the Health 2.0 conference, I can be reassuring that there are a whole lot of Geeks out there working to make listening happen. Come join us!



My father used to say that many an ill could be cured by good conversation and just having someone listen…. I am glad to see it coming back in vogue. Knowledge does not only exist in the physician's body, it exists in the patient's body as well as those of their families = these are the lessons of genetics. Anyway, I will be looking this paper up, so thanks for sending it our way!

Keep up the good work!


Thank you for the sage words – so true isn't it, and hopeful that at the same time that the resources that we are putting into technology will ultimately let us do what we want and our patients want, to listen. Enjoy the article and feel free to post your thoughts,


Very glad to see this. Now that a crunch in my day-job has passed a climax, I'm climbing back into the bloggage. This is a great find.

And Ted, thanks SO much for pointing out that this is the terrific opportunity for "Health 2.0" applications. I'll circulate this in the Massachusetts Tech Leaders healthcare cluster.

Ted Eytan, MD