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BCH Listens

Every Person. Every Time.

by Robert J. Vissers, MD, President and CEO of Boulder Community Health

October 25, 2017

As you know, we've set a very ambitious vision for BCH — to create and care for the healthiest community in the nation. I'm confident we're well on the road to achieving that lofty goal.

I'm writing today to announce the official launch of a system-wide initiative designed to move us closer to that vision by helping all of us improve our ability to listen thoughtfully and carefully to our patients and each other. "BCH Listens: Every Person, Every Time" is an opportunity for personal and professional growth centered on refining our communication skills.

Creating a culture of active listening can transform BCH in many valuable ways. Active listening is good medicine — research shows that providing treatment within an emotionally supportive environment improves patient outcomes. Patients in such a setting feel more connected with their caregivers, creating a more supportive relationship for both parties.

It's also been shown that caregivers who create real emotional connections with their patients and their colleagues experience much deeper job satisfaction. It's easy to understand that connection. After all, we chose health care as a career because we wanted to help people. Unfortunately, due to the ever increasing demands of our jobs, some of us find ourselves more focused on managing and documenting patients' care than building supportive and healing relationships. That can lead to burnout. BCH Listens can help us recapture that ability to connect emotionally with our patients — and each other. Actively listening to our co-workers will help us build a more supportive and welcoming work environment.

As you may know, I was an Emergency Medicine physician before moving into management. I spent over 20 years working in hospitals and was fortunate to learn the vital importance of empathetic listening early in my career. Having the ability to listen effectively enables us to better understand a patient's needs, the needs of their loved ones and identify potential barriers to care.

We've been piloting BCH Listens for about a year, starting in our ambulatory clinics and then moving to physician groups and other departments in BCH. I've heard from many participants who were personally moved by the thoughtful conversations that can occur in one of these 30-minute sessions. BCH Listens has already built such a positive reputation that additional departments, units and physician groups have been proactively asking for BCH Listens to start a dialogue within their teams.

We want everyone at BCH to join this important conversation. Directors and managers can request a BCH Listens session by emailing Sharna Ill ( and Lauren Hyer ( We're adding BCH Listens to our New Employee Orientation on November 1.

I know that BCH providers and staff are caring, incredibly knowledgeable professionals who want to do their absolute best for each patient and for our community. I am convinced that BCH Listens can give each of us additional tools and motivation to help us to achieve our shared vision of creating and caring for the healthiest community in the nation.

I invite you to watch the linked video to learn more about BCH Listens.