Why Patient Experience Relies on “Practical Wisdom”

In this article by Bruce Temkin, he highlights what Aristotle called “practical wisdom,” which refers to “the combination of moral will and moral skill.” Temkin highlights an example cited by Barry Schwartz in his TED speech “Our Loss of Wisdom” about hospital janitors who cater to patient, family, and visitor needs and believe doing so is as essential to their job as what’s on their job description.

“Practical wisdom” is absolutely critical in the work of optimizing healing healthcare. For a similar example of such an amazing patient/family experience in a hospital made possible by a maintenance man full of “practical wisdom,” see my upcoming blog that will be published the week of December 3rd by Hospital Impact, a blog written by and for hospital executives, physicians and other healthcare thought leaders.

Customer Experience Matters®

I recently watched a video of a TED speech by Barry Schwartz, the author of the seminal book The Paradox of Choice. His TED talk was called Our Loss of Wisdom. Wow! It’s a powerful speech.

Schwartz references what Aritstotle called “practical wisdom,” the combination of moral will and moral skill. He uses anecdotes about janitors at a hospital who alter their prescribed work routines in order to cater to the needs of patients and visitors. His key point is that these janitors believe that human interactions involving kindness, care and empathy are an essential part of their job, even though their job descriptions don’t mention anything about how they should treat other people. According to Schwartz:

These janitors have the moral will to do right by other people. And beyond this, they have the moral skill to figure out what “doing right” means…. A wise person knows when…

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