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Healthcare Experience Matters, PRC

The BATHE Technique for Improved Physician/Patient Communication

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We have Dr. Kacey Gibson back on our Healthcare Experience Matters Podcast this week for a chat about implementing the BATHE technique in your daily interactions as a healthcare provider.

Dr. Gibson is a family medicine doctor in Pensacola, Fla., and a Physician Coach faculty member with the Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF) team. She has an unrelenting passion for improving physician/patient communication. 

BATHE is an acronym for Background, Affect, Trouble, Handling, and Empathy. 

Dr. Gibson describes the technique as a simple, time-tested way to let a patient tell their story by helping them describe their feelings and emotions. One of the most appealing aspects of the technique is its practical use. Some research has even indicated that healthcare providers may be able to implement it in less than a minute.

During this interview, Dr. Gibson was asked if it could really be possible to connect with patients meaningfully and screen for mental health problems in such a brief amount of time. She replied that yes, it is possible, but it will take a lot of practice. 

“You're not going to come out of the gate and just go into it and be able to do it in under a minute,” she said.

As we also learned during today’s interview, helping patients to name their emotions is also key within utilizing this technique in a sustainable and effective way. 

“I think as a society, we definitely struggle with naming our emotions and knowing how to process those emotions and how to deal with them,” Dr. Gibson told us.

Demonstrating compassion through empathy for the patient is important for the successful implementation of this method. 

“A lot of times, all a patient needs is to be heard. They want to be able to tell their story, know they're not alone and that somebody else understands what they're going through,” she said. 

Emotional wellness is closely linked to our overall wellbeing. This makes the BATHE Technique -- and its emphasis on mental health awareness -- even that much more powerful.

“There are plenty of articles, research, and books that show anxiety, depression, and PTSD, can manifest as very real symptoms that patients feel. And really, we must take a mind/body approach in medicine towards treating patients,” she said.

When Dr. Gibson is counseling patients, emotional competence is one of the first things she likes to address. 

“If a patient comes in with a blood pressure of 200/100, we're going to tackle that first too, but again, even if your blood pressure is high, is it because you're stressed? Is it because you're rushed in here? Is it because you've been avoiding health care, because maybe you had a negative experience?”

Watch This Podcast

You can view this entire interview with Dr. Gibson here:

More HX Matters Podcasts

Are you looking to catch up on Dr. Gibson’s first appearance on our podcast? Listen to Communication and Patient Empathy in Fast-Paced Settings from our podcast archive. 

The last five episodes of the Healthcare Experience Matters Podcast are available here: 

This podcast is dedicated to transforming the health care experience so that every person can receive and deliver the best care.

You can subscribe to our podcast for free on all major podcast platforms and for video of our interviews, you can always check out the Healthcare Experience Foundation (HXF) on YouTube. Catch up on all episodes of our podcast by subscribing and following us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music and more.

Healthcare Experience Matters, PRC