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Putting Patient-Centered Care Into Perspective

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, May 2, 2011

I cannot imagine any other industry in which you guess what your customers want without asking them, and yet while attending healthcare conferences and conducting countless interviews I've found that many hospitals do not have a single patient on their small patient-experience committee (of which the study says 42% of folks are using to drive this initiative). Imagine a quality committee without your quality officer or your electronic health records initiative without the CIO.

But back to my story; to the hospital's credit, this process was somewhat patient-centered. Somewhat. While they did draw me a picture, my physicians' desires to proceed at a swift pace were great for the hospital, the staff and the OR turnover, but it wasn't great for me.

That's where the lesson lies, as does the simple definition of patient-centered care: it's not about your hospital's goals or anyone else in it, true patient-centered care is all about me—the patient.

Now for a longer definition of patient-centered care, I like this hybrid—I feel it best reflects my needs as a patient. Care of a patient should involve education about the patient's illness (acute or chronic), an understanding of its impact on the patient and family as a whole, a full explanation of the proposed therapy (ideally with multiple treatment options), and engagement of patients as members of the overall care team.

You may be wondering why, as the financial leader of your hospital or health system, that patient-centered care should be so important to you. Aside from the Medicare changes to reimbursement for 30-day readmission, there's money to be gained from this approach. Consider this data example from the IBM white paper Capturing Value from Patient-Centered Care:

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1 comments on "Putting Patient-Centered Care Into Perspective"


stefani (5/20/2011 at 10:57 AM)
Great article but a little naive. Patient centered care DOES require a major cultural shift and that includes the physicians. Unfortunately the reality - especially is small rural, community hospitals - precludes any effort on the part of the physicians to start thinking of their practice behaviors from the patient's perspective. And its typically supported by hospital execs who want to keep the beds filled. As long as physicians control the sandbox, they pretty much run the playground. The successful CEO - and I admit there are plenty - is the one who agrees to share the sandbox to keep the playground running smoothly.