In the past few years, the American healthcare system has witnessed dramatic changes with the consumerization of healthcare marking perhaps the most influential transition. More power than ever has been placed in the hands of patients, given that managing one’s well-being is as easy as opening a smart phone. The influx of apps aimed at helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle in addition to the development of wearable technology gives consumers choices, and they’ve developed their own preferences along the way. Now, physicians are paying attention to these needs and values during treatment, as doing so offers a higher quality of care and increases the chance of improving outcomes. This naturally coincides with practicing patient-centric care.
What is Patient-Centric Care?
Patient-centric care may be administered differently depending on the field of medicine and location. However, the goal is always the same: To provide healthcare that is responsive to a patient’s needs and respectful of a patient’s preferences and values, according to the Institute of Medicine. During patient-centric care, the patient’s desires and values should direct treatment, including both minor and major medical decisions. The Picker Institute and Harvard Medical School further define patient-centric care as having eight principles:
- Access to care
- Emotional support
- Physical comfort
- Family involvement
- Integrated care
- Respect for the patient’s desires
Patient-centric care is about more than allowing patients to make their own decisions. It is about ensuring they have the coordinated emotional and physical support they need from their providers, as well as the education and tools necessary to make choices that support their preferences and values.
Technology Enables Focusing on Individual Patients
Patient-centric care has grown in popularity because medical technology evolved to enable health insurance providers, medical facilities and physicians to better learn patient preferences, communicate with patients and coordinate care with one another. Cloud computing specifically led to improved electronic health record systems. Digitally stored information can be shared among patients’ providers quickly and improves patient engagement and education, which ultimately leads to improved patient outcomes, according to Healthcare IT News. Prior to these technological options, there were many obstacles to providing individualized care. It was too time consuming and costly to offer services and communicate based on individual patient preferences.
Advanced Technology and Protocols Improve Patient Emphasis
Effective patient-centric care does not happen overnight, and it requires more than adjustments at the physician-patient level. For small practices and healthcare networks, focusing on improving their IT systems and obtaining or better utilizing their EHR software make a huge difference, Healthcare IT news reported. Also, advanced digital recordkeeping is essential to coordinating care with other providers, keeping patients informed and offering both physical and emotional support. Facilities can also implement multichannel communication abilities, such as email, automated phone calls and text messaging to provide information to patients based on their preferences.
In addition to updating technology, facilities can benefit from establishing patient-centered protocols. These can include obtaining patient preferences and updating the relevant systems to follow them. For instance, patients may prefer discreet communications by text or email instead of phone calls. Or patients may desire phone calls but only during certain hours. Other helpful changes may include adding staff and expanding office hours to offer additional access and one-on-one attention to patients.
Why Does Patient-Centric Care Matter?
Due to patient-centric care’s recent rise in popularity, providers may question its importance. Why do patient preferences and values matter more now than they did a decade ago? Because focusing on patients’ needs, preferences and values works, Psychology Today reported. It can drastically improve medical care and lead to better outcomes.
At Advanced Medical Reviews (AMR), an independent review organization (IRO), improvements in medical care and innovations in patient communications are an asset to their independent medical review and utilization review services. IROs rely on accurate records and efficient communication between healthcare providers to ensure the highest quality standards are used in the peer review process. As Megan Kaufman, General Manager of AMR notes, “The more the healthcare industry responds to patients’ needs and feedback, the more we can ensure our clients and their patients are satisfied.”
When physicians concentrate on patients’ individual physical and emotional needs and personal values, patients feel supported. When patients are supported and well-educated about their conditions and treatment options, they are better able to confidently make decisions for themselves.
Overall, patient-centric care enables patients to take ownership in their treatment and recovery. This can improve quality of life during an illness and encourage patients to stick with their treatment plans, which can be a major obstacle to improvement. As the healthcare industry continues to push for quality medical treatment over the quantity of services provided, it is important for physicians and facilities to focus on providing patient-centric care.