ZenStorming

Where Science Meets Muse

Innovating Healthcare, Starting With the Words We Use

Posted by Plish on March 30, 2013

I remember when I was a kid, my dad had gone for some tests.  He had never had major tests like this before because they were testing for a terminal disease.  The doctor shared the results and told him the results were negative.

His heart, and face sank…

“No, that’s good news!” the doctor responded, “It means you don’t have the disease!”

When I saw the below picture at MedicalHumour, I remembered the story and the power of words.

hospitals-the-only-place-where-the-word-positive-means-a-bad-thing

It got me to thinking again about the power of words. (Dr. Lera Boroditsky has done some amazing work on this)  In addition, research is showing, more and more, the power of positivity

So when I saw the above picture, at first I chuckled and shared it on my Facebook page.

And then I was horrified.

This isn’t right.  Hospitals are supposed to be places of healing.  Leaving aside the bedside manner of physicians, the very fact that a word that carries connotations of goodness, healing, joy, and forward movement is used to convey negative news is wrong.  How can we expect sick people to think in a truly life-giving and healing manner if they hear a ‘good’ word conveying bad news?

I’m involved  with the folks over at Positive Imperative.  These folks are busy ‘driving the world to positivity,’ understanding and fostering positivity and its role in our world. (I encourage you to join them as well!)  They have a movement called Posiwords that is about creating, and fostering the use of, positive words.

In a time when healthcare costs are rising, we need to take advantage of every edge we can to get people healthier quicker and with less cost.

What a better way to start than with the language that’s being used in the healthcare setting?

Co-creating a better healthcare system starts with this post.

What are some of your ideas for changing the words we use?

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One Response to “Innovating Healthcare, Starting With the Words We Use”

  1. […] lesson here is that language is important.   From healthcare terms, to renaming strategic plans, to renaming project ‘post-mortems’, I believe it’s […]

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