Over the last thirty years, patient-centered care has gone from being merely an idealistic concept to a fundamental and expected approach to care delivery. Today, Planetree, a non profit organization, leads the charge in the advancement of such care practices. In this series, we discuss and disprove the myths that Planetree has identified as challenges to achieving patient-centered care.
Before debunking these myths, it is important to explain what we mean by “patient-centered care.” As defined by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), it is “providing care that is respectful and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.” In short? It means taking the patient into consideration when making clinical decisions.
Today, we address the following myth: Patient-centered care is “nice,” but it’s not important.
The Doctor Always Knows Best, Right?
Those who align with this outdated perception might argue that since the patient’s preferences do not have much clinical bearing, providers should not use them to guide clinical decisions. As an expert in medicine, the clinician should have full control over the patient’s care.
While care providers certainly have the knowledge and experience to make informed clinical decisions, the patient must always have a say. Listening to and acting upon the patient’s wishes helps to establish trust, ultimately leading to a more positive patient outcome.
Patients have the greatest insight into their own lifestyles and goals. Their preferences influence medication adherence, diagnosis and treatment comprehension, and their overall safety. The degree to which patients’ voices are heard can influence how fast they recover, whether or not they will be readmitted, and their overall health outcomes.
But Will It Really Help My Organization?
When patients are brought into the care process, they are more satisfied with the care they receive. With CMS regulations tying HCAHPS scores, a measure of patient satisfaction, to value-based purchasing bonuses, hospitals now profit from happier patients. However, the positive impact of patient-centered care initiatives on the patient experience lasts far longer than a VBP bonus cycle. When patients believe that their needs were properly met by care providers, they are likely to return for future visits and refer others to do the same.
In all, while patient-centered care might have once been viewed as simply a “nice gesture”, it is of paramount importance for the overall health of the patient and the financial wellbeing of the organization.