Some health care firms focus on empathy to keep people healthier | Empathy and HealthCare |

During the past decade, some health care businesses have begun to experiment with new ways to keep people healthier and out of the hospital by improving the relationships between medical professionals and patients.

This push for more empathetic care springs from a change in how health care providers get paid. Keeping people healthy can be more lucrative than treating sick people.

The Penn Center for Community Health Workers, based in West Philadelphia, hires and trains its staff to work with people in their homes and neighborhoods to help patients figure out how to deal with their health problems. To build strong connections quickly, the Center looks to match patients who cycle in out and out the hospital — often related to medical illness, poverty and mental health concerns — with community health workers from similar upbringings. The belief is the more these front-line workers have in common with their patients, the more patients will trust them.