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Howick: Positive empathic communication reduces pain

One of the most recognizable experts in empathic healthcare, Jeremy Howick, spoke at the 11th conference It's About People on the topic Manifesto about the need for cooperation between healthcare technology and empathy.

Professor Jeremy Howick is the Director of the Stoneygate Center for Excellence in Empathic Healthcare and Professor of Empathic Healthcare at the University of Leicester. He also works at the University of Oxford and the University of Cardiff. “Technology is changing healthcare around the world. At the same time, rigorous studies have shown the benefits of  ‘old-fashioned’ empathy for patients and healthcare professionals,” points out Howick, who says his mission is to ensure all medical consultations include a dose of empathy.

Empathy is perceiving and understanding another person's thoughts and feelings. It is the psychological ability to perceive the emotions of another person. Howick's research shows that empathic care positively affects patients' pain. “My research with thousands of patients has shown that positive empathic communication can reduce pain, morphine use, and length of hospital stay while improving satisfaction with care and quality of life. This is a crucial starting point."

Jeremy Howick is the author of three books, including The Philosophy of Evidence-Based Medicine and the bestselling Doctor You. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications and appeared as an expert on the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and in many major newspapers, including The Guardian, The Times, Men's Health, and the Daily Mail. 

Artificial intelligence in the form of artificial caregivers offers a possible solution to the problem of a growing elderly population. However, concerns remain that artificial caregivers, such as nursing or chatbots, do not provide patients with the same treatment as humans. "With the lack of reliable evidence on the safety and effectiveness of artificial caregivers, the inability of such robots to express empathy is also an obstacle to this supposed future becoming a reality," pointed out Professor Howick, adding that for this purpose, he also proposed the Turing test, which tests the machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior.

The vision of the Stoneygate Center for Empathetic Healthcare is to improve patients' lives by introducing a new approach to medical education and training that places empathy at the heart of healthcare and promotes future-proof health and care services.