Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Healthcare: Need For Compassionate Leadership


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Role of compassion in healthcare

Central Idea

  • India’s rapid strides in health and healthcare with the help of a digital boom and the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, and the need for compassionate leadership to ensure respectful healthcare.

India’s healthcare sector

  • India’s healthcare sector has shown improvement in multiple metrics due to the push for healthcare digitization, infrastructure, coverage, and other inputs.
  • However, healthcare is not just about the treatment of diseases or the availability of infrastructure but also about the overall wellness of the person.
  • Respectful healthcare that is available, affordable, accessible, and compassionate is a determinant of the quality of care.

Importance of Compassionate leadership

  • Respectful and compassionate healthcare is essential: Healthcare is a perpetually evolving, stressful, and high-risk industry that puts a vast burden on healthcare providers. It is essential to navigate and manage the situation compassionately to deliver respectful care.
  • Compassion is a beating heart if healthcare: Compassionate leadership is required to build this type of healthcare system, as it is the quiet, beating heart of the entire healthcare system.

Curriculum for compassionate healthcare

  • Compassionate curriculum is very necessary: To integrate compassion into the healthcare system at every stage, it is necessary to build a curriculum and deliver it to those responsible for administering healthcare respectfully.
  • Curriculum with Dalai Lama’s vision rolled out in Bihar: An eight-stage curriculum, developed by Emory University, that furthers the Dalai Lama’s vision of educating both heart and mind for the greater good of humanity is being rolled out in Bihar.
  • Impact: To date, 1,200 healthcare providers across 20 districts have been impacted by the vital components of the cognitive-based compassion training, creating compassionate leaders at every level.

Institutionalizing compassionate healthcare

  • Institutionalizing will bring in real change: While the curriculum is a quantum leap towards building compassionate leadership, institutionalizing it will bring in real change.
  • Adopting at each level: Every academic institution and every department mandated with the responsibility to deliver health-related learning should develop and adopt compassion-based curricula.
  • Building capacity: State and regional health institutions must also be built with the capacity to deliver compassionate leadership. Partnerships with established academia and development sector organizations can enable the organizing of master coaches and master facilitators, thereby creating public goods that can be delivered by all.

Strengthening internal systems

  • Making compassion intrinsic to the ethos: All healthcare providers are expected to carry out a wide range of tasks within the system, which often leads to burnout and impacts patient experience adversely. It is vital to strengthen systems internally to make respect and compassion intrinsic to the ethos.
  • Building a network: Building a network of compassionate practitioners in every state, district and block hospital is crucial to fan the winds of change by starting with self-compassion first and then moving to compassion for others.
  • Valuing and measuring organizational culture: Valuing and measuring organizational culture is just as critical as patient outcomes. Developing sound metrics to measure culture and employee satisfaction, self-compassion, and compassion for the team assumes greater significance to building an institution whose foundation is compassion.


  • Respectful healthcare is already mentioned in the National Health Mission (NHM) guidelines, and such guidelines need to be the warp and weft of every policy and every guideline developed by public health authorities to improve patient experience. Compassionate leadership can truly realize India’s historically known values of compassion and bring alive the words of Hippocrates, the father of medicine, “Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity”.

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