Research shows that public trust in medical practitioners has fluctuated significantly over the years. Still, these individuals remain some of the most trusted professionals in America. As the focus on patient-centered care in healthcare increases, that confidence is likely to increase even further.
What is this approach to wellness, though, and why is it essential to the medical field? While in-depth definitions may vary between doctors and other professionals, there is much agreement over the central aspects of this increasingly common approach in the medical field.
How Do You Define Patient-Centered Care?
If you ask five doctors to define patient-centered care, it's possible you'd get five different definitions. Each of these will have extensive similarities, though, and they will all focus on improving health outcomes. You'd eventually learn that patient-centered care is an approach to healthcare where an individual's unique needs and desires are prioritized.
This approach takes various other patient considerations into mind, including:
- Physical health.
- Emotional well-being.
- Mental health.
- Social considerations.
- Financial issues.
- Spiritual health.
Patient-centered care is essentially a holistic approach that involves the collaboration of many, including the patients themselves, their family members and their physicians. The goal is to create a customized plan that meets every client's needs. This approach has been shown to improve health outcomes by various measures.
Benefits of an Approach Catered to Patients
When you combine every aspect of patient-centered care, the advantages are far more numerous. Including a patient's family in their health decisions offers many benefits on its own.
Here are just a few of the positive outcomes medical professionals see when utilizing this approach:
- Information sharing puts patients at ease.
- Reduced emergency room visits.
- Decreased recovery times.
- Fewer referrals and diagnostic tests.
- Cost savings for patients and facilities.
- Increased care team, patient and family satisfaction.
- Reduced usage of healthcare resources.
These advantages of patient-centered care are just the tip of the iceberg. Research has increasingly shown improved outcomes, which can be even more significant in specific settings (e.g., patient-centered medical homes). So, how can healthcare professionals excel in this area?
How to Improve Patient-Centered Care
Offering an improved focus on patient needs involves active listening, but that's far from the only requirement. Patient-centered care requires adopting a new perspective to care. Fortunately, the process doesn't have to be a difficult one.
The following strategies can help in this endeavor:
- Allow access to electronic health records (EHRs).
- Simplify and expedite appointment scheduling.
- Utilize independent medical reviews.
- Encourage family members and caregivers to engage.
- Use post-discharge phone calls, discharge folders and care boards when appropriate.
- Stay up to date with conference proceedings related to patient-centered care.
- Recommend peer-support programs.
- Offer resources for self-referral to specialists.
None of these strategies are extraneous. When combined, they significantly improve the patient experience. There have been many approaches to medical care taken over time, but an increased focus on healthcare consumers themselves is where we always should've landed.
These few simple steps can mean all the difference for those in need of care.
We Have to Take Patient-Centered Care Seriously
Whether you're a private practice physician or the head of a region's health systems, it's impossible to overstate the importance of focusing on the patient and their unique needs. Doing so improves health outcomes, increases patient satisfaction and reduces healthcare costs. However, more importantly, these benefits build trust in healthcare. If you haven't focused on patient-centered care, now is the time to do so.
An easy way to start down this path is by utilizing independent medical reviews, and we can help in that process at Advanced Medical Reviews. Contact us today to learn more.
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