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Don’s Desk: Compassion at Harrison Healthcare

Compassion. It is one of three core values at Harrison Healthcare, and by far the most important one. The others are innovation – and achieving excellence in everything we do.

As a Harrison client you should take comfort in knowing that compassion is our most important value.

I began my journey in primary healthcare in 2005 under the name of Copeman Healthcare, not as a professional, but as a consumer. I was looking for true compassion. I am, and will continue to be, your advocate in this regard.

My family suffered greatly in the past from poor primary healthcare, but not because physicians and other care providers lacked expertise, or even empathy. What they lacked was time to truly help, in a thoughtful, compassionate way that “left no stone unturned.” Compassion is an emotional reaction to empathy that creates a desire to help. But without the time to deliver that help, there is little choice than to become somewhat “numb” to the situation. I’ve even witnessed indifference as a reaction to this professional stress.

At Copeman Healthcare, we solved the problem of physician time by inventing a new model of primary healthcare delivery that involved other professionals working alongside physicians as clinical partners. It was time to leave no stones unturned. I recall very well saying to our staff, “Simply treat our clients like they are your family. You can never be too busy to deal with a patient’s difficult diagnosis or treatment plan.” This simple but important principle is the foundation of the care model at Harrison Healthcare.

If that sounds like marketing or idealism, let me share some additional thoughts. There is now a significant body of scientific evidence that delivering healthcare with heartfelt compassion, even faced with a lack of time, delivers better patient outcomes. Studies have shown that a simple acknowledgment of a patient’s concern can lead to startling health improvements. Two great examples are an 80% improvement in cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and 40% less severe complications with metabolic diseases.

Compassion buffers stress-mediated diseases, modulates the experience of pain, and improves immune response. When patients feel heard, they listen more closely to their care plans, and are more likely to follow them. Apart from the positive effect on the patient’s mind/body connection (and therefore healing), learning to deliver care with true compassion invariably results in meticulous, attentive care, and higher quality standards.

Delivering healthcare with compassion also benefits us. It triggers reward pathways that buffer normal emotional problems that exist with our staff. If offers every professional a greater feeling of accomplishment and life-meaning, and therefore greater career satisfaction. It simply allows for the creation of a team that will be with you for a very long time.

At Harrison our compassion extends to the community in the form of altruism. We are committed to building important technology-based tools that leverage the knowledge we gain to help those that cannot afford a service like ours. In the weeks ahead, my wife Nicole and I will share our thoughts on this more as we create the Copeman Foundation for this purpose.


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We would like to acknowledge with gratitude that we operate on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in Vancouver, and of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Mountain Nakoda Nations, and the Métis Nation (Region 3) in Calgary. With appreciation, we recognize that these lands have been stewarded by them since time immemorial.

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