Why are patient stories valuable in health care?

Institute for Healthcare Improvement: Open School (Cambridge, MA), April 30, 2015



One of the things that we do a lot of in the area of patient- and family-centered care and in changing culture is storytelling.

Stories really help us to connect to the process — the processes that we’re involved in day to day. What stories do, is they connect our heart to our work. It’s an incredible way to engage patients and staff, family, and clinicians — to engage everybody around a single thing. It really helps us. The most beautiful thing to watch when a story is told in a really meaningful way is that people return to why they’re doing the work that they’re doing. It gives real meaning to the work that they’re doing.

Where we tell stories is as important as the stories themselves. Three places that I’d like to talk about are the clinical interaction, the team interaction, and at leadership moments.

This quote that I leave you with is probably one of my favorites. Throughout life, we often think we have to change everything around us in order for our worlds to change. But as you mature, you realize that it’s not about new places, it’s about seeing things through new eyes.

That’s what stories do for us — they let us see through the eyes of others.


Subjects Covered: medicine

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