The Importance of “Rituals” in Professional Relationships

In a TED talk, Dr Abraham Verghese says that:

“The most important innovation in medicine to come in the next 10 years: the power of the human hand.”

In this talk he describes how there is the ritual that is often the most important thing for the doctor-patient relationship. It is the “human contact” that makes the patient feel that there are being cared for.

One interesting example Verghese gives, is the “ritual” of the daily rounds (in a hospital). In earlier years, this involved a group of junior doctors crowding around a more senior one as they went from bed to bed to check on, and discuss, the patients. Nowadays, this is more likely to happen with all the doctors sitting around a large table, all with access to print-outs, computer screens, etc, etc., without the patient even being present.

This is true for a lot of situations where there is some professional relationship. It is the presence of the “expert” and the way they perform their “ritual” that gives the customer a sense of “being taken seriously”.

Verghese gives a great talk. I’m definitely going to have a watch of this again at some stage.

Abraham Verghese: A doctor’s touch

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