The rise of patient-centered care paved the way for empowered patients and more effective health systems. Find out why and how hospitals must shift towards patient-centered care.

Customer experience is one of the most significant factors for success in all industries including healthcare. 

With increasing competition and evolving consumer preferences, more clinicians are adopting patient-centered care. This type of care involves anticipating a patient’s anxieties and providing them with comfort and reassurance. It’s the act of providing quality care, compassion, and convenient access to ensure a positive patient experience. 

Just like all types of customers, patients always expect a high-quality experience. Health systems that provide engaged and integrated care for patients won’t only save more lives, but also improve their bottom line. 

What is patient-centered care? 

A patient-centered approach is the practice of providing medical services that revolve around an individual’s specific needs and desired health outcomes. 

In a patient-centered model, patients are empowered to make decisions concerning their own care and treatment. The physician’s role is to educate, advise, and support the patient. 

In order to come up with well-informed choices, patients need to fully understand the procedures they will undergo. They are given control over their data and digital access to educational resources that help them participate in their own care. Similarly, patients increasingly expect personalized procedures and treatment paths that match their needs and preferences. 

A patient-centered approach does not tolerate implicit bias. Patients should feel that their opinions, values, and identities are respected at all times by medical providers. These include elements of race, gender, religion, and socioeconomic status. 

The goal is to provide patients with the highest level of care and attention. This means giving them adequate time for consultations and access to cutting-edge medical equipment. Adopting electronic health records can give providers reliable access to a patient’s complete clinical data. This will help them suggest more meaningful treatment plans. Additionally, EHRs can improve appointment scheduling through integrated patient portals. Since data is readily available, EHRs can reduce prescription errors caused by miscommunication and prevent repetitive tests and immunizations, which can be unsafe and costly for patients. 

Doctors and staff can reduce patient suffering by addressing all their needs. Nurses should keep a close eye on call buttons or check if a patient needs help using the toilet or reaching for an item. Providing physical assistance can help protect patients from falls or injuries that can worsen their frail conditions. 

Hospitals are breeding grounds for bacteria and diseases. Keeping the facilities clean and sanitized will protect patients from hospital-acquired infections and improve their overall experience. 

Ensuring constant and healthy communication between patient and provider can reduce worry and build trust. A patient who fully understands his health status is more likely to feel relaxed and comfortable. Additional stress can weaken the mind and body, which can disrupt the road to recovery. 

Picker’s 8 principles of patient-centered care 

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, supported by the Picker Institute and The Commonwealth Fund, identified eight elements of patient-centered care. 

They used relevant literature and data from a wide range of focus groups including recently discharged patients, physicians, and family members. In the end, they came up with a list of practices that contribute to a positive patient experience. 

Respect for patients’ values, preferences and expressed needs

Recognize their unique requirements and ensure they are involved in decision-making. Show respect and sensitivity towards his autonomy and cultural values. 

Coordination and integration of care

Illnesses often leave patients feeling vulnerable and helpless. Proper coordination of care can reduce these feelings and make a patient feel calm and comfortable. 

Information and education

Based on the interviews, patients are often worried about not being entirely knowledge about their prognosis or condition. Clinicians can put a patient’s mind at ease by providing adequate information on clinical status and progress, processes of care, and health promotion. 

Physical comfort 

Patients shared that the level of physical comfort has a profound impact on their overall experience. Pain management, assistance with daily living needs and activities, and quality of facilities and environment were reported to contribute to patient comfort. 

Emotional support and alleviation of anxiety and fear

Anxiety caused by illnesses can have harmful effects on the mind and body. Patients reported that the leading causes of their anxiety include their prognosis, treatment, and the impact of the illness on themselves, their family, and their finances. 

Involvement of family and friends 

Providers can focus on offering accommodations for family and friends and ensuring the patient’s loved ones are involved in decision-making. 

Continuity and transition 

Patients often worry about their ability to care for themselves following discharge. To address this problem, physicians need to provide detailed instruction regarding medications, physical activity, and dietary needs. They must also plan ongoing treatment and services. 

Access to care 

Patients emphasize the importance of ambulatory care. Some of their concerns involve access to the location of medical facilities, reliability of transportation, ease of scheduling consultations, and accessibility to specialty services in case of referrals. 

To improve care and optimize health systems, medical providers must guide and empower patients every step of the way. The value of patient experience must be integrated consistently in your policies, procedures, and daily operations. Management must actively support efforts to redesign care and improve patients’ lives.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Person-Centered Care: What is it & Why is it Essential?," in Medicalopedia, July 13, 2020, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/9068/person-centered-care-what-is-it-why-is-it-essential/].