The words “sacred trust” evoke a response within me that I find difficult to put into words. Yet there is no doubt, and each of you know this, that a “sacred trust” does exist between a doctor and the patient. This sacred trust is the glue that holds a healing relationship together. It is the privilege given to us by patients and their families when they allow us to become intimately involved in their lives as a result of this unique relationship.
Patients at their most vulnerable, open themselves to us, disclose things to us in ways few other professions experience. They may tell us things they have shared with no one else. They will open themselves to invasive physical treatments because they trust, hope, and believe in us. Sacred trust is necessary for a true healing relationship to occur. Without trust there is no relationship. Without relationship there is no special bond that transcends all the forces driving healthcare transformation. Without this sacred trust the real art of medicine is lost and the joy that goes with it.
Many transformational forces are increasingly impacting healthcare today. What will become of this sacred trust? Will the future model for medicine be based solely on algorithms that provide a treatment plan drawing on the latest clinical evidence, gleaned from a massive database? This model requires no human interaction only analytics. More and more it seems that this is the direction medicine is taking. However, such a model misses the critical human element of healing, caring, and compassion. It lacks intuition and judgment. It completely ignores the art that is medicine as well.
The practice of medicine is both art and science. This sacred trust must exist in a healing relationship as well as science. The transformative forces acting on healthcare must serve this relationship not diminish it. People want a human connection in their care. For this to occur, the framework for healthcare delivery must be created which would demonstrate how the transformative forces can enhance the healing relationship. This is the challenge to health care leaders today. This is the reason why we as physicians must reengage in all aspects of healthcare and lead the way through this transformation.
How will this look? I don’t know. I am not sure anyone knows at this point. Changes are occurring at incredible speed and we must be ready to take on this challenge. However, foundational to all of this is maintaining that sacred trust. The relationships we develop with our patients, and the sacred trust that results, is why most of us went into medicine. Without this, it becomes only work, hard work with no joy. You do make a difference every day. This sacred trust is one reason why.
As always, thank you for the many sacrifices you have made and continue to make so that our patients get the best care possible in a loving and compassionate way.
Andy Lamb, MD