Healthcare News & Insights

Patient-centered care: Improved communication and outcomes

Patient-centered care: Is it just another industry buzz word or a better way of providing care that’s here to stay?

Guess it depends on who you ask in the healthcare industry. But many providers feel it’s the way health care should be delivered.

So what is patient-centered care?

First, let’s start with what it’s not. Patient-centered care is not a system through which total control over care is given to  patients — that would be irresponsible. And it doesn’t mean the patient is always right.

Instead, patient-centered care is a way of providing care that’s respectful of and responsive to patients’ preferences and needs, and takes them into consideration. Basically, it’s involving patients in the planning, delivery and evaluation of their healthcare.

Not something new

Healthcare providers have always been dedicated to the health and well-being of their patients. The problem is insurance companies have made made it more difficult for them to focus on the whole patient. Instead providers are pushed to focus on the problem, diagnose it and treat it as fast as possible. The focus is on managing the medicine, not the patient.

Especially in the hospital, patients adopt the “Yes, doctor” mentality. They see the doctor as the expert, which they are in medicine. But most patients are the experts on themselves. Not necessarily what is good for them medically — that’s the doctor’s responsibility — but on how they feel physically and mentally.

When physicians, nurses, therapists, etc., take the extra time to find out how patients honestly feel, what they want, and take them into consideration,  patients feel empowered as active participants in their care and recovery.

Feeling genuinely cared for and not like just another cog in the machine helps patients get better faster and get out of the hospital more quickly. And through open communication with their physicians, patients absorb more knowledge of their post care and have fewer hospitalizations because they’re more compliant with their self-care skills at home.

Family involvement

Communicating with the family is also an important part of patient-centered care. The more people kept in the loop the better the follow through with the patient’s care.

However, in patient-centered care, family is defined by the patient. According to the Patient-Center Care Improvement Guide, “family” are those people who know the patient best, and that simply having them there “help[s] reassure patients in times of uncertainty, anxiety or vulnerability.”

To have a patient-centered care facility, physicians and other providers need to encourage family to actively participate as members of the care team. They are also a valuable source  of information for providers as they are with the patient much more. They can provide information about the patient’s history, routines, symptoms, etc.

Health care for many patients in the hospital can feel like a complex maze they are forced to figure out when they are not at their best — physically or mentally. So they either clam up and endure it or try to avoid it at all costs, leading to more demanding hospitalizations due to more serious illnesses. By encouraging better communication, and patient and family involvement, providers can get patients better faster and avoid recurring hospitalizations.




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