Why Are Patient Stories Valuable in Health Care?

Martha Hayward, IHI Faculty and Patient Advisor

 Have trouble viewing this video? Read the transcript.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
  • Recognize the power of telling patient stories in a health care setting.
  • List at least two reasons why telling patient stories can be valuable in a health care setting.
  • List three common types of interactions in health care settings during which it can be valuable to tell patient stories.
Description: Told at the right time and in the right place, patient stories can be incredibly powerful. But when is the right time? And where is the right place? In this Open School video short, IHI’s Director of Public and Patient Engagement, Martha Hayward, shares some storytelling strategies gathered from years of work with patients and families.
Discussion Questions:
  1. Martha mentioned a number of reasons why stories can be helpful in health care and situations in which to use them. Can you recreate her lists? Can you build upon them?
  2. Why are patient stories useful at the beginning of large meetings, such as board meetings or staff meetings? 
  3. Does the Marcel Proust quote that Martha shared (at 4 min 30 sec) ring true to you? Why or why not?
  4. Why is it important for leaders to tell patient stories? What story from a leader, inside or outside of health care, has especially stuck with you and why?
  5. Martha mentioned that you don’t want your stories to make people in health care settings feel “helpless or overwhelmed.” Discuss this idea: What type of storytelling should you avoid?
  6. What is the most powerful patient story you’ve ever heard or told? What made the story so powerful?
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