What is patient-centered care? Patient-centered care focuses on each individual’s unique health needs and takes all facets of their well-being—including emotional, spiritual, social, financial, physical, and mental health—into consideration in order to achieve desired health outcomes. It is a holistic approach that values shared decision-making and active participation from both the patient and their care team.
As you will soon see, there are many benefits of patient-centered care. Prioritizing an individual’s health needs—whether that means effectively addressing their mental health conditions or evaluating the social determinants of health that impede their well-being—will bring positive effects for the patient and improve patient care delivery at your healthcare organization.
Benefits of patient-centered care
If you haven’t considered implementing this approach into your healthcare organization’s care model already, you’d be wise to do so. Care providers that focus on each patient’s unique needs see increased benefits of patient-centered care, such as higher rates of patient engagement and patient satisfaction—and ultimately, better patient outcomes.
Improved patient satisfaction
Patient satisfaction corresponds with how well a healthcare service aligns with a patient’s expectation of care. Patient-centered care helps increase patient satisfaction rates by taking patients’ personal health goals and desires into consideration and involving them in their own treatment along the way. With shared decision-making, a patient’s active participation drives the care plan and gives clinicians a very clear idea of how to exceed their expectations. This, in turn, significantly improves patient satisfaction rates.
Better reputation for your organization
Thanks to online reviews and social media, patients can discover a healthcare provider’s reputation more quickly and easily than ever before. Healthcare professionals cannot view patients merely as individuals seeking treatment for one condition—they are healthcare consumers expecting the exceptional benefits of genuinely patient-centered care.
One study conducted in Spain revealed that a healthcare organization’s social reputation and how patients—and relatives of patients—perceived patient safety at its facilities were directly correlated. In other words, the patient perception that the hospital was a safe clinical environment that committed very few errors was a key component of that facility’s positive reputation.
With patient-centered care models, shared decision-making between the patient and their care team ensures that the patient feels they are being taken care of properly and that all safety precautions have been implemented.
Better job satisfaction for staff
One of the many benefits of patient-centered care is higher staff morale and job satisfaction for care providers. Most healthcare professionals go into the field because they are sincerely passionate about helping people. When clinicians feel like they work at a healthcare organization that focuses on patient-specific needs—and more specifically, the implementation of quality improvement measures—they are more likely to feel satisfied with their job and less likely to experience burnout.
Reduced expenses and total cost of care
Research conducted by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield in 2014 revealed that patients who participated in patient-centered programs had a nine percent lower total cost than those who participated in traditional fee-for-service care models. Patients who received patient-centered care were also eight percent less likely to be admitted to a hospital and five percent less likely to end up in the emergency room.
When a healthcare organization identifies exactly what an individual patient needs, it can eliminate unnecessary, expensive tests, reduce hospital admission rates, and reduce ER visits—all of which lower the total cost of patient care.
Best practices for patient-centered care
Now that you know more about the benefits of patient-centered care, it’s important to understand how to best implement it at your own healthcare organization.
Developing a patient-provider relationship is a huge component of patient-centered care. While it’s always important for clinicians to gain their patients’ trust, the patient-centered care model utilizes shared decision-making to help the patient and their care team work together to achieve optimal health outcomes.
In addition to driving shared decision-making and other benefits of patient-centered care, clinicians also need to practice empathy and effective communication to make sure they are nurturing their relationships with patients—and providing the best care possible at all times.
Streamline patient communication
Communication skills are vital in order for clinicians to provide effective patient-centered care. There are many medical encounters where providers can utilize effective communication to gain patient trust, gather information, answer questions about conditions or care plans, and support patients emotionally.
However, overscheduled and overworked staff may find it difficult to prioritize proper communication when they are overwhelmed by administrative responsibilities or juggling too many patients at once. In these cases, digital health tools can sufficiently streamline patient-provider communication with features like automated reminders. This has two major benefits—patients receive touchpoints in between appointments, and some of the administrative weight is lifted off of clinicians’ shoulders.
Closed-loop communication for clinicians
Originally used as a U.S. military radio communication practice, closed-loop communication is designed to confirm to the sender that the recipient has received and understood the information being communicated. In the clinical setting, this communication technique reduces incidences of errors that could otherwise come from misunderstandings and false assumptions.
If your healthcare organization has already implemented closed-loop communication, revisiting best practices with your staff is an excellent way for care providers to get a refresher course—to check that they are communicating with their patients in a way that ensures all parties are informed and understood.
Digital healthcare technology programs, such as EHRs and Care Management platforms, can provide each clinician with all documented patient information and a digital archive of previous actions and communications. This way, they can be kept in the loop with the patient’s latest health status and most up-to-date care plan.
Creating a better patient experience
Now that you understand the benefits of patient-centered care and some of the best practices to employ this patient-focused style of working, we encourage you to start implementing them into your healthcare organization’s care model in order to improve the overall patient experience.
Designing a holistic, patient-centered care plan will help you and your staff provide a more ideal experience for patients, no matter their condition or how you are treating them. To learn more about improving the patient experience, read our ebook: How to Create Amazing Patient Experiences.