The authors of this book come from a broad diversity of fields and have covered an equally wide range of topics on the impact of emotion in healthcare: both the impact it has on patients, and its impact on healthcare providers. We have highlighted the functions of emotions, the interaction of illness and emotion, and addressed the nuances of emotion in a variety of patient populations, in addition to covering many aspects of emotional intelligence. We have sought to address emotions in the culture of medicine, including the challenges of teaching emotion-relevant skills and the importance of achieving emotional wellness in trainees and practicing healthcare providers. We have described the many emotion-related interactions in healthcare, highlighted the numerous problems, obstacles, and benefits in addressing emotions, and have offered guidance and advice. The remaining question is: how will clinicians and trainees navigate tomorrow’s healthcare landscape while effectively addressing their patients’ emotions and managing their own?
In recent years, the delivery of healthcare has changed significantly and will continue to change as technology allows for the care of patients to occur more frequently within patients’ homes. Telehealth in the form of telephone visits, video visits, and other remote methods of communication and care (text, email, and remote monitoring devices) is enhancing the convenience of healthcare and giving patients more options. However, the lack of physical presence adds challenges in understanding and dealing with emotions. Telehealth visits challenge both how providers and patients perceive the emotions of the other person and limit the ways providers have to address patients’ emotions. In a telehealth visit, the provider is required to have a heightened awareness in picking up emotional clues remotely, and if the visit is a phone visit, this is even more challenging since visual clues are not available. Best practices in care and education on how to perceive emotion and address emotion in the telehealth visit are evolving and more research is needed to respond to this challenge.
Artificial intelligence approaches to detecting emotional cues, both in voice and face, have been developed over the past decade, and may offer new tools for emotional training. While this type of technology may prove useful in patient care and education, relying too heavily on technology to detect the nuanced and complex facets of emotion comes with its own risks, and should not replace the training required to hone clinicians’ emotional perception and intelligence.
We advocate for making training in, and assessment of, emotional intelligence a standard part of medical education in order to improve patient care and provider wellness. This training should be as central to developing a well-educated clinician as teaching anatomy and physiology is, since emotion is intimately tied to health and the appropriate handling of emotion can make all the difference in whether a patient is able to engage with the recommended treatment. While the abundance of content in the medical education curriculum is ...