The Power of Language–People vs. Patients

By: Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH

July 31, 2017

Doctor inspecting a child

Renown Health President and CEO Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, explains the importance of honoring patients as real people.

In health care, clinicians are traditionally expected to treat patients’ physical health. While that is certainly an important mission, care providers can easily become so focused on the physical domain that we lose sight of a person’s total health: the interaction between the mind, body and spirit.

I believe terminology plays a big part in that process. Intellectually, we know that the individual is much more than a “patient.” He or she is part of a family and community with interests that go far beyond their illness. That’s why I’d like to get rid of the “patient” concept. When we focus on patients, we lose the ability to frame a person outside of their illness. We overlook factors that can have a huge impact on the quality of an individual’s life.

To help people get well, we need to focus on their total health. That’s why at Renown Health, we help heal people, not patients. We believe this mission is further reflected in the different ways we give back to our community. Click here to learn more about our latest community partnerships.

Dr. Anthony Slonim is an innovator and proven leader in healthcare on both the regional and national levels. During his notable career at major healthcare organizations and academic institutions, Dr. Slonim has developed a national profile as an expert in patient safety, accountable care, healthcare quality and innovative care delivery models focused on improving health within the community. For more Healthy Perspectives, follow Dr. Slonim on Twitter.

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