The Emotional Value of Healthcare

The Emotional Value of Healthcare

The Emotional Value of HealthCare

Author – Cyndi Siders, RN, MSN, CPHRM, DFASHRM, CPPS, Executive Consultant

Print a PDF version: The Emotional Value of Healthcare HCIS July 2017

HCIS Senior Care Blog

“Feeling the Connection”

Judy, 75-years-old, has recently moved into your assisted living facility. She was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer two months ago. Judy has chosen a board-certified oncologist and is very pleased with his knowledge about her medical history and available treatment options. Judy mentions that while her oncologist is always professional, she doesn’t feel a personal connection with him and he “NEVER” smiles.

Judy notices that some of the residents in her senior living community have been slow to connect with her, and one mentioned that making friends and then having someone pass away is really hard on everyone. Judy also feels that some of the staff are friendly but emotionally distant from her.

Judy tells you that she wants to live every day that she has left to the fullest, and she wants both good quality care as well as a caring environment and caring professionals. She considers the “rationale” value of healthcare (trained staff, working equipment, value for her money) as equally important as the emotional value (personal connection).

Socially skilled staff1, emotional intelligence2, and emotional fit3 are some of the current terms used to describe the importance of the resident-care provider relationship. “Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language and our personal appearance.”4 Socially skilled staff are conversationally present, engaged, compassionate, excellent communicators, friendly, and professional. They are able to effectively manage stress and conflict.

Emotional intelligence is defined by one source as:

“…the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.”5


The core emotional intelligence competencies include:

  • Self-Awareness skills: emotional awareness, accurate self-assessment, and self-confidence (Personal Skills/Competencies)
  • Self-Regulation or Self-Management skills: self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, and innovation. (Personal Skills/Competencies)
  • Self-Motivation skills: achievement drive, commitment, initiative, and optimism (Personal Skills/Competencies)
  • Social Awareness/Empathy skills: “Empathy is an awareness of the needs and feelings of others both individually and in groups, and being able to see things from the point of view of others” including understanding others, developing others, service orientation, leveraging diversity, and political awareness.
  • Social Skills: influence, communication, conflict management, leadership, change catalyst, building bonds, collaboration and cooperation, and team capabilities6

Studies are showing that healthcare worker and healthcare provider behaviors, including empathy and compassion, are impacting patient/resident outcomes (e.g., adherence to medications and treatments). Research is also showing that emotional intelligence (EQ) impacts resident-centered care, teamwork, communication, job satisfaction, and employee stress adaptation.7

Judy is looking for an emotional fit – an emotional connection with her living community and healthcare providers. For Judy, not having this connection is stressful, uncomfortable, and impacting her emotional wellness. This impact on her emotional wellness is impacting her physical health. A strong patient/resident-care provider connection engages the resident and family and develops “relationships that are enduring, promote healing and encourage an optimal patient experience.”8 A healthcare team that is not professionally and emotionally connected and does not have effective teamwork and communication skills will impact the resident and family experience.

Hiring for Emotional Intelligence

While the literature suggests that you can train for better emotional intelligence skills, hiring an employee with observed emotional intelligence skills is a helpful start. Ask questions that will give you an idea regarding how the potential employee recognizes and expresses emotions.

  • Tell me about a favorite activity or hobby that you like to do in your free time. Please explain this activity to me as if I know very little about the details of the activity. These questions assess the individual’s focus on work-life balance (a healthy component of emotional health), their ability to explain the activity in understandable terms, and their ability to adjust their communication style based on the questions being asked.9
  • Provide a recent example of working with a resident that was not following/complying with their treatment plan. How did you manage the situation? Does their response include:
    • Naming their emotion(s) – “This was frustrating for me because I knew the importance of taking this medication and I wanted the resident to do well”
    • How did they manage their emotion(s)?
    • What did they do to try to understand the resident’s actions/motivations? “Joe, tell me why you are not comfortable taking this medication?”
    • What did they do to resolve the conflict or find a reasonable compromise?
    • How did they communicate with the resident, family and healthcare team?10
  • Tell me about a time you tried and failed at something? Are they able to describe the situation, their role in what went wrong, and what was learned without shifting blame to others?11

Resources for Training Emotional Intelligence Skills

  • Ohio State. Emotional Intelligence for Nurses. https://nursing.osu.edu/assets/attachments/Student_affairs/einurses.pdf
  • The Journal of Nursing. Emotional Intelligence in the Nursing Profession https://www.asrn.org/journal-nursing/202-emotional-intelligence-in-the-nursing-profession.html
  • Holland, K. Nursetogether.com. Developing Emotional Intelligence for Good to Great Nurses. http://www.nursetogether.com/developing-emotional-intelligence-good-great-nurses
  • Codier, E. American Nurse Today. Emotional intelligence: Why walking the talk transforms nursing care. https://www.americannursetoday.com/emotional-intelligence-why-walking-the-talk-transforms-nursing-care/
  • Gokenbach, V. Nursetogether.com. Emotional Intelligence in Professional Nursing. http://www.nursetogether.com/emotional-intelligence-professional-nursing
  • Ward, J. Nursetogether.com. 3 Types of Nurses at Work That Drive Us Nuts. http://www.nursetogether.com/3-types-nurses-work-drive-us-nuts


  1. Fierce Healthcare. Better patient satisfaction comes from hospital staff. (2012, September) http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/better-patient-satisfaction-comes-from-hospital-staff (May 20, 2017)
  2. Warren, B. Becker’s Hospital Review. Healthcare Emotional Intelligence: Its Role in Patient Outcomes and Organizational Success. (2013, May) http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/healthcare-emotional-intelligence-its-role-in-patient-outcomes-and-organizational-success.html (May 20, 2017)
  3. Parker, C. Emotional fit important between a patient’s desired feelings and physician, Stanford research shows. (2015, April). http://news.stanford.edu/2015/04/02/doctor-patient-emotion-040215/ (May 20, 2017)
  4. What Are Social Skills. https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/social-skills.html (May 20, 2017)
  5. Psychology Today. Emotional Intelligence. https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/emotional-intelligence(May 21, 2017)
  6. Emotional Intelligence. https://www.skillsyouneed.com/general/emotional-intelligence.html (May 21, 2017)
  7. Warren, B. Becker’s Hospital Review. Healthcare Emotional Intelligence: Its Role in Patient Outcomes and Organizational Success. (2013, May) http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/healthcare-emotional-intelligence-its-role-in-patient-outcomes-and-organizational-success.html (May 20, 2017)
  8. Burger J, Hoogerhuis, M and Standish, M. Gallup. How Hospitals Can Maximize the Patient Experience. (2014, December) http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/179843/hospitals-maximize-patient-experience.aspx(May 21, 2017)
  9. Evercheck blog. Why Emotional Intelligence Is So Important In Healthcare… And How To Interview For It. (2017, January) http://blog.evercheck.com/why-emotional-intelligence-is-so-important-in-healthcare. (May 23, 2017)
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
This blog, which does not reflect any official policy or opinion for Vaaler Insurance, Inc. or Siders Healthcare Consulting, LLC, is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal or medical advice, nor is it intended to be an exhaustive list of all risks that need to be addressed for a healthcare organization. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, changes may occur and inaccuracies happen despite best efforts. This information is not a substitute for individual consultations with professionals in these areas and should not be relied on as such. Please work with your legal counsel and business advisor(s) for a plan that is specific to your organization. © 2017 Vaaler Insurance, Inc.


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