American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Osteopathic Medicine Philosophy on Patient Empathy

From day one of medical school, osteopathic physicians (DOs) are trained to treat people, not just their symptoms. DOs learn an empathetic, patient-centered approach to care by combining their medical knowledge with their ears to listen carefully to their patients, and with their eyes to see their patients as a whole person.

The osteopathic philosophy of medicine centers on building deep relationships with patients and using empathy to build trust. Being empathetic means understanding patients’ experiences, concerns and perspectives, and being able to communicate this understanding to patients.

DOs “think osteopathically” by asking their patients about home and work/school life since lifestyle factors play an important role in one’s health. By taking the time to ask questions about all aspects of patients’ lives, physicians will become better equipped to provide the highest standard of care to their patients.

Empathy Improve Quality of Patient Care 

Their unique approach to patient care is what sets DOs apart. By recommitting to the osteopathic philosophy of medicine, you can provide a higher level of service to your patients while boosting your job satisfaction.

  • Empathy translates to better patient comprehension. The better your patients comprehend a diagnosis, the better they will comply with your instructions for care.

  • Your patients could experience better health outcomes since patients who like their physicians are more likely to be compliant with their treatment plan. Diabetic patients with more empathetic physicians, for instance, were significantly more likely to have their illness under control, according to a 2011 Academic Medicine study.

  • After acceptance of insurance plan, adults consider bedside manner/empathy when selecting a physician for themselves or a loved one, according to a 2013 American Osteopathic Association survey
  • It can boost your bottom line. Insurance carriers and employers are increasingly tying physician reimbursement to patient satisfaction scores.
  • You could avoid malpractice lawsuits. Empathetic physicians are less likely to be sued than physicians whose patients are unhappy with their communication style.


 Partnering with Your Patients


Looking to up your empathy game? These simple strategies can help you develop stronger empathy and better communication with your patients:


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