A Perspective on Patient and Family Centered Care

In late July, I had a great experience attending the 7th International Conference on Patient and Family Centered Care in New York City.  

About 10 years ago, the CEO of Exempla Healthcare (now SCL Health), Jeff Selberg, suggested I reach out to Bev Johnson who founded the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care (www.ipfcc.org). She started this movement that has gained tremendous international momentum. I realized that I should not have waited 10 years. Bev Johnson has made a huge impact.

I learned much at the conference, and more importantly, I heard stories of organizations-nationally and internationally -that are building their care processes using the principles of Patient and Family Centered Care.  I learned that it isn’t easy but it is rewarding.  I learned that patients and families are willing to talk and that sometimes care providers are not willing to listen.   One session about training providers was titled “Without Me You have Nothing”.  This session told the story of partnering with families in teaching about patient and family centered rounds. I also thought that without patients and families, health care organizations are empty buildings and the staff is out of a job.

This made me reflect on my own opinions and experiences with “Patient and Family Centered Care”. I thought about the principles used in many organizations and how they apply to not only hospitals, but also outpatient clinics, cancer centers, home care, health plans, and nursing homes (where it is called Resident and Family Centered Care). Here is the summarized definition from the IFPCC:

Patient- and family-centered care is an approach to the planning, delivery, and evaluation of health care that is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among health care providers, patients, and families. Patient- and family-centered practitioners recognize the vital role that families play in ensuring the health and well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and family members of all ages. They acknowledge that emotional, social, and developmental support are integral components of health care. This form of care shapes policies, programs, facility design, staff day-to-day interactions, better health outcomes, wiser allocation of resources, and greater patient and family satisfaction.

Therefore, it comes at no surprise that Dr. Tony DiGioia and the leaders at the Patient and Family Centered Care Innovation Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, describe Patient and Family Centered Care as the new “Operating System” for health care organizations.  It is a better way to do business.

There are four core principles of Patient and Family Centered Care:

  • Respect and dignity.
    Information Sharing. 
  • Participation. 
  • Collaboration.

It made me wonder how the CipherHealth products help healthcare organizations achieve their goals of being more patient and family centered.  In thinking about the possibilities, a few specific ideas stuck out to me.

Respect and Dignity – As simple as it sounds, with CipherRounds, providers can ask patients if they were treated with respect and their preferences honored. This direct, yet simple question can uncover so much in terms of how patient perceive their care.

Information Sharing – Once the patient leaves the hospital, Echo provides a clear way for hospitals to leave important recordings about discharge instructions or personalized notes.

Participation – Through CipherOutreach post-discharge follow up calls, patients are engaged by being asked specific questions about their recovery and can be asked direct questions related to their care such as if they need help with transportation or scheduling a follow-up appointment.

Collaboration – With both CipherRounds and CipherOutreach, patients are asked about areas for improvement or ideas for improving care. Asking these questions both inside and outside of the hospital provide a clear picture for how providers can better serve their patients.

As we, in the healthcare industry, continue to discover what it means to be patient and family centered, it is exciting to know how much possibility lies in front of us. We encourage our current and future clients to let us know how you are using our products and services to be more patient and family centered and what we can do to make our products fit your patient needs.  

Barb Davis

Barbara Davis, MA has been involved in quality in healthcare for over 30 years, and currently serves as CipherHealth's SVP of Clinical Services. She has worked in complex health care environments, including a university health system, an HMO health plan, and multi-hospital system. Her areas of expertise include quality improvement and Lean, service excellence focusing on organizational culture and the patient experience, patient safety and reliability, regulatory issues and organizational strategic goal setting. Currently she sits on the Patient and Family Advisory Council at Saint Joseph Hospital in Denver.