"The big word in medicine right now is 'value,'" observes Dr Tulsky, the study's lead author. "Quality comprises two things: One is outcomes; the other is the patient experience. Health systems, particularly as there is more competition among them, are beginning to recognize that patient experience drives quality. That is what is expected by people. A key piece of the patient experience is what the encounter is like with their provider. The thing that will affect their sense of having a good experience is their sense of a clinician whom they believe understands what they're going through. That's the definition of empathy."