Language Matters

Victor Montori's book, Why We Revolt, invites patients and clinicians alike to change not only the way we look at healthcare, but also how we talk about healthcare.  We asked, "Why is this shift in language important?"

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Language shapes the way we see, think, and act. Today, industrial healthcare and those seeking to shape it rely on industrial terms and therefore industrial thinking to respond to its problems and to improve. Problems of access, throughput and value don’t reveal the tragedy of people suffering without care that responds to their situation. Efforts to improve efficiency - value by its less glamorous name - drive the need to blur the differences between people  - patients and clinicians - to make them interchangeable, and what they do standardized. Making people a blur makes care generic, ineffective. And ineffective care cannot be efficient. Industrial efforts sound good particularly when the need to spend less is ever more acute.

And yet, profits soar and tax funded safety net programs languish because of austerity and ideology. The problem is greed. And caring must respond to challenges of waste not with efficiency to fuel greed but with elegance that makes solidarity viable. Language matters. We don’t want industrial healthcare. We need careful and kind care. I trust that the actions we will take, the decisions we will make, the debates we will have, and the social compacts we will forge will be dramatically different when lovingly wrapped in the language of care. 

Join us on July 17 on Twitter for our first digital book club about Why We Revolt.  Follow @PatientRev on Twitter for details, and if you need more information on how to participate in a tweetchat, check out this blog post.