Compassion & Empathy

An Unwavering Mission to Empower All Patients

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In this week’s Healthcare Experience Matters podcast episode we are honored to be joined by compassionate patient advocate, David Ezon, MD, a pediatric cardiologist and associate professor of pediatrics with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

He’s also the creator of The Patient Empowerment Workshop™, as well as the author of the new book Survive and Conquer: Your Guide When Illness Strikes.

Today’s conversation is moderated by Healthcare Experience Foundation President, Katie Owens.

As you’ll discover in this interview, Dr. Ezon’s deep-seated passion for patient advocacy is fueled by personal experiences, and it has led to an incredible professional journey.

Patient Advocacy

Dr. Ezon recounts the story of his upbringing in a family shadowed by medical illness. This experience fostered in him a balanced view of medicine—admiration for the healing miracles doctors can perform, combined with a healthy skepticism.

He emphasizes the importance of incorporating empathy and practicality into patient interactions, treating each patient uniquely and with strong attentiveness.

Dr. Ezon also highlights a pivotal moment when his cousin’s experience with a medical error in a hospital emergency room further ignited his determination to empower patients.

This frustration led him to conceptualize his book “Survive and Conquer” and the Patient Empowerment Workshop series, aiming to help patients and families take a more active role in their care.

Reducing the Power Dynamic in Healthcare

A central theme of this chat is the necessity of reducing the power dynamic between healthcare providers and patients.

Dr. Ezon stresses the importance of humility and partnership in clinical settings. He encourages doctors to embrace a dual role—as both leaders and followers—when navigating the ups and downs of patient care.

This approach ensures that physicians listen enthusiastically to patients’ needs and preferences, enhancing the overall care experience.

Building Patient Confidence

Dr. Ezon identifies two main barriers patients face: a lack of confidence and a perceived lack of permission to question or challenge medical advice. He shares practical strategies for overcoming these barriers:

Language and Communication: Patients should feel empowered to ask doctors to explain complex medical terms in simpler, more understandable language. Asserting phrases like, “Please explain it to me like I’m a five-year-old,” can be effective in ensuring clarity and comprehension.

Utilizing Pauses: Simple techniques like asking, “And then what happens?” followed by a deliberate pause, ensure more detailed, step-by-step explanations about medical procedures or treatments.

Building Trust: Confidence grows from a thorough understanding of medical processes, enabling patients to visualize and prepare for every step in their care journey, thus reducing surprises and building trust between patients and providers.

    Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFAC)

    Dr. Ezon also discusses the meaningful role Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFAC) play in this mission to empower patients.

    By training PFAC members in essential advocacy skills, they can transform into knowledgeable and confident resources, effectively contributing to better patient outcomes and safety.

    Empowering PFAC members with communication and advocacy skills not only enhances their effectiveness but also amplifies the collective patient voice within the healthcare system.

    Enhancing the Patient-Provider Relationship

    Dr. Ezon advises providers to create a supportive environment where patients feel safe to express their anxieties and questions. By confirming patients’ emotions and fears, healthcare providers can build a more compassionate care environment.

    As the podcast draws to a close, Dr. Ezon highlights the need for healthcare providers to continuously strive for improvement through self-reflection and close attention to patient feedback. This humility is invaluable.

    More HX Matters Podcasts

    Our 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.