Patient-Centered Care: What Is It and Why It's Important
Patient-centered care is a philosophy of health care that involves focusing on the needs and preferences of individual patients. It's about building relationships with patients and treating them with respect, dignity, and compassion. The goal is to provide the best care possible for each individual—not just based on your own personal opinion or preference, but in a way that aligns with their values, culture, and beliefs.
Studies have shown that practicing patient-centered care can lead to:
- Improved patient outcomes
- Tighter blood pressure control
- Better overall health status
- Lower hospitalization rates
- Improved management of chronic conditions
- Increased patient satisfaction
- Sharper quality of care.
As healthcare providers, we have the power to make a positive impact on our patients' lives. In this blog, we will explore the concept of patient-centered care, its benefits, and why it's essential to prioritize the patient's needs and preferences.
What Is Patient-Centered Care?
Patient-centered care is a healthcare approach that goes above the traditional disease-oriented model and prioritizes the patient's needs, preferences, and values. It involves creating a collaborative relationship between healthcare professionals and patients, where patients are active participants in their care decisions. Patient-centered care recognizes the importance of individual differences, cultural beliefs, and personal goals in the patient's care.
In patient-centered care, the healthcare professional sees the patient as a whole person, not just a set of symptoms or a medical condition. The patient's emotional and social needs are considered alongside their physical health needs. Healthcare professionals listen actively to patients, communicate with them in a clear and transparent manner, and provide them with evidence-based facts and information to make informed decisions about their care.
It's About Building Relationships
Patient-centered care is about building relationships. It entails learning about your patients as people and not just bodies, understanding their unique needs and preferences, and treating them with respect, dignity, and humanity. Patient-centered care is more than just having a good bedside manner. Effective patient-centered care also necessitates ongoing communication between healthcare providers and their patients, to ensure that the patients feel listened to and valued throughout their treatment.
While providing patient-centered care can be challenging when dealing with large numbers of patients, it also provides an opportunity for healthcare providers to serve as role models for how society should treat others. This involves actively listening before responding or acting, accepting and valuing differences rather than judging them, and recognizing our shared humanity, even when there are political, social, or professional disagreements.
Patient's Needs Are Top Priority
Patient-centered care involves meeting the unique needs of each patient. This entails not only providing high-quality medical treatment but also collaborating with patients and their families to help them understand their medical condition and treatment options.
For example, suppose a doctor suggests that surgery may be necessary, but the patient wants more time before making a final decision. In that case, the physician should inquire about the amount of information that would be helpful to the patient to provide it without overwhelming them with too many details at once or assuming how much information would be too much. Additionally, if a patient declines a procedure or treatment due to religious beliefs, healthcare providers should respect their decision, even if they disagree.
Patient-centered care also requires healthcare professionals to communicate effectively with each other as well. For instance, by sharing notes when transferring responsibility between doctors or nurses; setting up appointments; ensuring the patient has plenty of medication refills; etc.
Treating Patients with Respect and Dignity
The patient-centered approach involves treating patients with respect and dignity, rather than simply viewing them as tasks to be completed. It encompasses actively listening to patients' needs and preferences and collaborating with them to make informed decisions about their care.
In addition, patient-centered care involves ensuring that you have the necessary information to provide the best care possible to your patients. This includes understanding what matters most to each individual patient in your practice or facility. For example:
- Does the patient prefer to receive detailed information about treatment options or simply someone who can fix their problem?
- Are they comfortable being treated by someone of a different race, gender, or religion? If not, how can we help them feel more comfortable in the office setting, such as by providing brochures on cultural differences?
A Holistic Approach
Patient-centered care is a holistic approach that recognizes that the person is not just a body, or even a physical being. It's about building relationships and ensuring that your patient's needs are the top priority.
The idea behind patient-centered care is to focus on what each individual wants out of their experience with you as their healthcare provider. For example, if someone has diabetes, they may want to know how best to manage their disease so that they can live comfortably with it for years to come. Not just have their blood sugar levels checked once per year and then move on from there.
Physical and Emotional
Patient-centered care comprises not only the physical aspects of care, such as diagnosis, treatment, and management of disease or illness, but also the emotional and psychosocial aspects of care. Patients often experience emotional distress during their healthcare journey, which can include anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Therefore, patient-centered care involves addressing the emotional needs of patients, such as providing emotional support, counseling, and education, alongside physical care.
By addressing emotional needs, healthcare providers can improve patient satisfaction and overall outcomes. This approach also helps patients to feel more empowered and in control of their healthcare experience, which can lead to better adherence to treatment plans and improved overall health.
The best available evidence is a critical component of patient-centered care. This means that all aspects of the treatment plan should be based on the best available scientific evidence, including:
- The diagnostic tests and procedures, as well as their frequency and purpose (e.g., whether they need an MRI vs a CT scan).
- The medications prescribed by doctor(s), including what they're used for, how much they cost, and alternative options, if available, with fewer side effects or better outcomes than the drug being prescribed.
In addition to using this type of information when making decisions about their treatment plan, it's also important to respect individual circumstances and specific factors unique to each patient's situation such as:
- Some people may experience considerable side effects, so another treatment option should be considered.
- Others might not tolerate certain medications well at all due to other health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Still others may simply prefer alternative options over traditional treatments because those alternatives feel more natural or less invasive than other methods would be.
While some aspects of care may need to be standardized for efficiency's sake (such as using a particular procedure), this doesn't mean that every patient will receive the exact same treatment; each one will receive only what they need individually.
Patient-centered care is based on the belief that the patient is the center of the healthcare team. It recognizes that each person has unique needs, preferences, and values when it comes to their health care experience and, therefore, can't be lumped together under one blanket approach or set of procedures.
While there are many aspects of patient-centered care, it's vital to understand that it's not solely about the patient. The goal is to enhance the quality of care for everyone involved in the healthcare system, including doctors, nurses and patients.
By prioritizing relationships, respecting patients' preferences and values, and acknowledging them as individuals who are part of a broader community, we can collaborate towards achieving improved outcomes for everyone.
We believe that every patient deserves to be treated with respect, empathy, and compassion. Upgrade your knowledge and skills with our flexible online courses. Click here to learn more and enroll today!