Will You Remember Me?

Thoughts on human connection in healthcare


Tinomutenda M. Tsikirai

7/12/20232 min read

She had asked if we had spoken before. I wrinkled my brow and tried to recall her gentle voice, but nothing came to mind. "Not likely. . . ", I responded thoughtfully and proceeded to assist her with her concerns. I was assisting a patient who called into the office. As I scanned her chart, I tried to remember her. Eventually, it clicked. The patient had called before and was following up on some information that I had provided her. As we wrapped up the call, I cheerfully informed the patient that I had been able to recognize her. We exchanged a few light-hearted comments and giggles. She then told me that she had recognized my voice, and I seemed overjoyed that I had remembered her. Something about this interaction tugged at my heart. My patient was not just seeking answers to her non-clinical questions, but human connection as well.

Human connection is what patient experience is all about. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for the advances in the technology that are used in healthcare. For example, electronic medical record (EMR) systems such as Epic can make it easier for patients to communicate with their providers, request prescription refills, and easily access their medical records. But it is important to recognize that technology is not a substitute for, but a set of resources to support connection. I believe that these resources only emphasize the importance of genuine human interaction.

I am on a personal professional quest to understand what it means to champion human experience in healthcare. Yes, I may at times write about other topics that I am passionate about, such as creativity and lessons learned from my floral and event design business. But you can expect everything to tie into healthcare somehow. I am looking forward to bringing you along on this journey as I muse on concepts surrounding patient experience and related ideas.

Back to my patient interaction. Before the call ended, she asked: "Will you remember me next time?" I assured her that it usually takes me two impressions to recognize most voices and that I would not forget her. "Have a good evening, Tino" she said as she hung up. "You too, Hailey" (Not her real name. Potentially identifying details have been removed or changed for patient privacy.) This brief interaction was a reminder that patients are seeking for connection and to be treated as valuable humans, and that I have a role to play in creating meaningful experiences for every patient in my sphere of influence.