Make the Human Connection

Western New Yorkers want providers to recognize they are people as well as patients by showing compassion, empathy and respect for their needs.

What the Community Said

Make the Human Connection emerged as the highest priority for the region, receiving mention in 83% or over 4 out of 5 conversations.

What Do Western New Yorkers Want:

Western New Yorkers want providers to recognize they are people as well as patients by providing compassionate care and addressing their full range of needs. A holistic approach to care should consider the patient's perspective as shaped by their culture, language, quality of life and even family and friends. Western New Yorkers also said they want their doctors to take the extra time required to listen to their concerns and provide comfort and reassurance, as patients often feel vulnerable and anxious during the health care encounter. Patients also want to be more engaged in the decisions that affect their health. Sometimes this requires additional assistance through the provision of a health advocate.

Western New Yorkers addressed the following specific elements of Make the Human Connection, listed in order of frequency of mention in community conversations:

  • Restore compassion, care and emotional connections to the health encounter
  • Support providers' ability to spend more time with patients
  • Promote patient choice and empowerment
  • Respect the personal beliefs, cultural perspectives and privacy needs of patients
  • Provide health advocates for patients

This health care priority ranked differently across certain populations in the region.

Expectations, values, past experiences and satisfaction levels with the current system likely affect how the diverse communities within Western New York addressed their priorities for the region's health system in the conversations held across the eight-county region.

Conversations where racial and ethnic minorities constituted the majority of participants were more likely to talk about the "human connection" in health care, particularly for time spent with the provider and with respect for cultural beliefs or privacy.

These issues were raised significantly less frequently in conversations conducted in rural areas outside Erie and Niagara Counties, perhaps due to lower patient loads that allow providers to spend more time with the patient, and thus establish a better personal connection.

"The system has become insensitive to patients' feelings."
"The patient comes first."
"Doctors have to spend more time talking to their patients."
"Patient advocates are needed to help maneuver the system and educate people."