Healthcare News & Insights

What ‘patient-centered care’ might mean for your hospital

The healthcare industry may be changing rapidly, but the drive to improve care quality for patients has remained a constant concern for many federal and private organizations. Here’s how you can keep your facility focused on your patients.  465490831

Whether your hospital is hoping to utilize new health IT trends, earn incentive payments or become part of an Affordable Care Organization (ACO) you’ll want your projects and programs to all focus on one area — the patient.

Unfortunately, putting patients at the center of your facility operations isn’t as simple as just revamping treatments or reducing hospital associated infections.

In addition to improving traditional care quality, hospitals also will have to try to remedy avoidable “patient suffering” from physical and mental side effects from treatment. That’s the takeaway from a FierceHealthcare article on a report dealing with reducing suffering and creating patient-centered care.

A move toward patients

The article notes that providers will have to help mitigate suffering related to postoperative pain and function, and address mental side effects associated with treatments, such as fear, anxiety, confusion and frustration. In order to begin centering operation on patients, facility leaders should focus on these areas:

  • System-based analysis. Identify treatment issues from variations in care and problematic operations processes, which can lead to less reliable care.
  • Individual physician performance. Pinpoint physicians in your facility who may have difficulty retaining patients or cultivating patient loyalty. The initial report suggests facility leaders consider creating mentoring programs, behavior-changing compensation plans and team-oriented, patient-centric delivery systems to help those physicians improve.
  • Employee and physician engagement. The report suggest doctors and nurses go through a five-step process (assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation), and review those steps with patients, families and other healthcare providers.

Connecting through telemedicine

Along with the above ideas to help make care more patient-centered, an article from EHRIntelligence suggests there’s another method for facilities to consider — telemedicine.

Dr. Jay Sanders, former president of the American Telemedicine Association, weighed in on the subject in the article. He believes that soon telemedicine won’t just be for connecting doctors to rural patients, but will become relatively common for providing quality, patient-centered care.

Sanders believes telemedicine will revolutionize patient-doctor interactions by allowing physicians to deliver services to consumers in their homes.

What the present technology affords the physician is an ability to better evaluate their patient in the patient setting, not in the doctor setting,” Sanders says. “And technology today, in effect, allows the physician to do an almost complete examination with communication technology.”

And it’s not just a matter of fully using technology or catching up to other industries that provide services to people’s homes. As Sanders points out, patients love the flexibility telemedicine offers, “All of the evaluations since the 1990s have shown incredible receptivity on the part of the patient to the convenience, to the interaction.  They don’t feel that this is impersonal.”

Hospitals can begin looking for the best ways to integrate telemedicine with their traditional care delivery methods. For example: There are an increasing number of medical smartphone apps which hospitals can begin testing and using.

Sanders also sees the telemedicine expanding through wearable devices to track patients’ health. Though there are still some legal hurdles associated with telemedicine, as healthcare continues to focus on patients’ needs and preferences, it may not be long until physicians’ “exam rooms” are wherever there’s wifi to connect them with patients across the country.

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