The following article is an excerpt from an ebook written by Shelley Thomson.  This article is part two in a four-part monthly series by Shelley which focuses on the nuances that drive patient-centred care, why it matters more than ever, how to better understand these dynamics, and how to measure its effectiveness.

To recap on last month’s article in STRIDE, patient-centred care is also referred to as human-centred care, person-centred care, patient-centric care or consumer-centred care.

What is patient-centred care?

It is essentially an approach to health care that is respectful and responsive to each patient’s preferences, needs, and values. The healthcare professionals working with patients recognise the importance of their input in their care and work in partnership with patients to make shared decisions and build a care plan that reflects the preferred outcomes of the patient.

One of the critical shifts in the concept of patient-centred care is that the patient takes a more proactive role in their healthcare – such as asking questions, doing research and making informed decisions and even refusing treatments they are not comfortable with. This patient-centred approach is a departure from the ‘paternal’ model of care, which has been the traditional model in many healthcare settings where the doctor knows best and sets the care agenda on the patient’s behalf.

It’s important to remember that patient-centred care is a journey, not a destination – patient needs and expectations are constantly changing. It is essential to keep asking patients about their experiences and evolving services to meet their needs.

Mapping out the benefits

When it comes to the benefits, research on patient-centred care and patient-centred communication has matured markedly in the past decade. Numerous well-executed systematic reviews demonstrate the positive impact of patient experience on clinical outcomes across a wide range of disease areas, clinical settings, and population groups, primarily attributed to patient engagement and process improvement.

#1 Sustainable, quality-driven growth 

Over years of working with healthcare organisations undergoing the process of patient-centred transformation, my colleagues and I have witnessed that a patient-centred approach delivers a more sustainable way to grow a healthcare practice – improving quality, safety and efficiency all while reducing costs. And most significantly, the patient-centred care model increases patient satisfaction, improves the perception of healthcare organisations within the community, leads to reduced readmission rates, shorter stay lengths and lowers the risk of acquired infections. 

#2 Engaged & retained staff

The care approach benefits practice staff, too. Multiple studies suggest that a patient-centred care model supports workplace well-being, promotes a positive staff attitude and reduces stress. It puts the focus of the healthcare professional back on the patient’s care, the reason they entered the healthcare profession in the first place. 

#3 Better clinical outcomes

Most importantly, patient-centred care helps improve clinical outcomes. Patient-centred care entities order fewer diagnostic tests and require fewer referrals. The patients themselves are more proactive and likely to adhere to treatment plans, improving patient outcomes. Undoubtedly, adopting a patient-centred approach increases the value of care to your patients. 

But the question is, will your place of work lead the way or lag?

Next month: How to measure patient-centred care