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Session Details

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​November 21, 2017, 2:00 PM ET: When Patients Feel as Powerless as Hostages

  • ​Leonard L. Berry, PhD, MBA, University Distinguished Professor of Marketing, Regents Professor, M.B. Zale Chair in Retailing and Marketing Leadership, Mays Business School, Texas A&M University; IHI Senior Fellow
  • Rana Awdish, MD, Director Pulmonary Hypertension Program, Medical Director of Care Experience, Henry Ford Health System
  • Kedar Mate, MD, Chief Innovation and Education Officer, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)

Len Berry is a distinguished professor of marketing and author of ten books and numerous articles on how to address service "failures" in health care; he chooses his topics carefully. When he heard a distressed parent talk about his hospitalized son as though the child was a hostage, something clicked. To Berry, "hostage" was an apt way to describe how patients and family members sometimes feel when they're trying to get the care they need.

Berry is the lead author of "When Patients and Their Families Feel Like Hostages to Health Care​," published in the September 2017 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. In the article, he and his co-authors recount circumstances and provider behaviors that intimidate patients and loved ones to the point of making it impossible to speak up and engage with health care from any position of dignity or strength. The examples in the article are stark, say the authors, but need to be stated if we're ever going to get to a different place. That's the spirit behind the November 21 WIHI: When Patients Feel as Powerless as Hostages, featuring Berry and two of his co-authors, Kedar Mate and Rana Awdish.

As a practicing physician, Mate says he frequently witnesses patients and family members exhibiting what the article refers to as "hostage bargaining syndrome" — negotiating for care as though the doctor has all the power and the patients have none. He will share how he tries to diffuse this dynamic and he's eager to hear about other strategies from WIHI listeners.

Rana Awdish is a physician who became seriously ill in 2008, losing her baby at seven month's pregnant and almost dying herself. Her experience​ brought to light how helpless she felt as a patient — reinforced by the actions and words of the doctors and staff caring for her, which also made Awdish reflect on how she practiced medicine. Awdish has been on a mission at Henry Ford to change this culture, starting with the minute a new employee steps through the door.

The authors are heartened by the tremendous response​ the Mayo Clinic Proceedings article is receiving, and their intent is not to discount all the good work already underway to transform how clinicians and patients relate to each other. However, the authors say, we still have a lot of work to do to get to the more respectful, even playing field that both patients and providers want.​

What has been effective at your organization when it comes to patient-provider relationships? Please bring your experiences, ideas, and questions to the November 21 WIHI. 

Please click here to create a calendar invite for the 2 PM ET broadcast.