Empathy in the healthcare system: the limits and scope of empathy in public and private systems
KERASIDOU A., HORN RUTH.
In this chapter we examine the two dominant healthcare models, public and private, and discuss the extent to which each model can promote empathetic care. We analyse the moral underpinnings of each model - solidarity and individualism - and examine different justifications for the provision of healthcare under each system. We argue that empathy exercised by the individual healthcare professional alone is not enough to ensure empathetic care overall. Rather, the healthcare system as a whole needs to embrace empathy as one of its principles and make it the basis on which it operates. Although the professional code teaches doctors and nurses to engage empathetically with their patients, it is challenging for healthcare professionals to develop, maintain and enact empathy in a system that does not support and foster it. Ensuring empathetic care for all can be better achieved in a system that acknowledges people’s interdependency and mutual responsibilities.