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In the broadest terms, patient-centered care is care that’s organized around the patient. It is a model in which providers partner with patients and families to identify and satisfy the full range of patient needs and preferences. This means putting people and their families at the core of decision-making about their own health.

Defining Patient-Centered Care

Patient-centeredness is one of the “Aims for Improvement” in the 2001 report, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century from the National Academy of Medicine. The report defined patient-centered care as: “Providing care that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient preferences, needs and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”

Care that is truly patient-centered makes the patient an integral part of the care team by putting more responsibility in their hands and supplying them with anything and everything they need to carry out that responsibility.

People may also use terms such as person-centered, family-centered, individualized or personalized care. Regardless of the terms used, a great deal of research has uncovered what matters to patients and how to provide patient-centered care to make sure people have a good experience.

A few aspects of patient-centered care include:

  • Putting patient’s needs and preferences at the forefront of their care.
  • Involving family and friends for emotional support.
  • Open communication and patient education services.

Why do nursing degree programs, like the Mississippi College online RN to BSN, focus on patient-centered care as part of the curriculum and learning outcomes?

Perhaps the greatest influence on patient experience comes from the individuals who comprise the healthcare team. Whether at the bedside or in the back office, in a patient-centered hospital or clinic, every staff member contributes to the overall patient experience.

From ensuring linens are fresh and bathrooms are clean to following up on billing questions and compiling customized patient information packets, every interaction is an opportunity for caring, support and compassion.

Interprofessional Collaboration: At the Heart of Patient-Centered Care

Interprofessional collaboration, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), occurs when  “Multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, caregivers, and communities to deliver the highest quality of care.”

Loosely defined, interprofessional collaboration is a partnership that starts with the patient and includes all involved healthcare providers working together to deliver patient- and family-centered care.

What Are the Benefits of Patient-Centered Care?

In the past, people were expected to fit in with the routines and practice that health and social services felt were most appropriate. Now, in order to be patient-centered, services need to change to be more flexible to meet people’s needs in a manner that is best for them.

This can occur on a one-to-one basis, where individuals take part in decisions about their health and care, or on a collective group basis where patient groups or the public are involved in decisions about the design and delivery of services.

Why Is This Approach to Clinical Care Used?

Making sure that people are involved in and central to their care is now recognized as a key component of high quality healthcare. Building patient-centered organizations has become a focus of quality improvement.

According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) placing people at the center of their care will:

  • Help patients get the quality care they deserve in a timely manner.
  • Encourage people to be more proactive in caring for themselves.
  • Ease the burden of our health and social service personnel.

In the United States, there is increasing demand for health services, and there are limited resources. People are living longer and may often have many health conditions as they age. Patients are emphasizing their desire for a healthcare system that is moving away from a paternalistic model in which healthcare professionals are expected to make decisions for the patient.

The Joint Commission has recognized the involvement of patients and families as a key patient safety strategy:

“Communication with [patients] and families about all aspects of their care, treatment or services is an important characteristic of a culture of safety. When [patients] know what to expect, they are more aware of possible errors and choices. [Patients] can be an important source of information about potential adverse events and hazardous conditions.”

Providing consumer-responsive care is also important from a financial standpoint, and will become even more so as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ties reimbursement to a number of measures, including performance on patient perception of care or HCAHPS surveys.

Everyone Has a Role in the Patient Journey

In patient-centered clinical settings, caring for patients is a function of every staff member, including the housekeeper changing linens, the billing specialist reviewing a patient’s balance, the infection control coordinator monitoring for hand hygiene, or the public relations specialist coordinating a community event.

Every staff member in a patient-centered clinical setting is a caregiver, and accordingly, every staff member is expected to be responsive to patient and family needs. Recognizing that every person on staff contributes in some way to the overall patient experience reinforces that patient care is a team effort.

Hospitals and clinics that take the time and initiative to create a patient-centered culture have a more satisfied and engaged staff, as well as increased revenue. This makes patient-centered care the perfect strategy for every medical practice.

Learn more about the Mississippi College online RN to BSN program.


Institute of Medicine: Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute: Highlights of PCORI-Funded Research Results

The Joint Commission: 2017 National Patient Safety Goals: The Joint Commission

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