Benefits of Patient-Centered Care
What is Patient-Centered Care?
- A partnership between the patient and health care professionals
- Medical decisions that respect the patient's needs and preferences
- Commitment to open communication
- Effort to understand the patient's needs
- Establishing an effective partnership that includes shared decision-making
- Incorporation of opportunities for goal setting, accrual of knowledge and skills to provide self-management
What Are the Issues?
- As pressure mounts to balance quality medical care with costs, the following problems tend to occur:
- Interactions between health care providers and patients become increasingly hurried.
- A rushed environment jeopardizes communication of medical information that continually grows in content and complexity.
- Patients may not know appropriate questions to ask, or may convey information that is not pertinent to their real concerns or medical issues.
- In an effort to prepare themselves for visits to their providers many patients use the Internet to gather health information. Some Internet sources of information, however, may not be credible and can even complicate the doctor-patient relationship.1
- One-third of patients leave a doctor's office without getting important questions answered.2
- One half of patients with health care problems report that their doctor does not ask for their ideas and opinions about treatment and care.Ibid
- Patients are at a disadvantage if they cannot communicate health information and questions to their provider in an efficient, accurate, and appropriate manner.
- Miscommunication wastes time and can lead to misunderstandings, poor quality of care, and less satisfaction for both patient and provider.3
Why Adopt Patient-Centered Care?
- The Institute on Medicine (IOM) has named "patient-centered" care as a key component of quality health care.4
- To improve the quality of care, new incentives are being developed for patient-centered care performance in health care settings.
- The National Committee of Quality Assurance is developing and testing a comprehensive set of measures to assess patient-centered practice.5
- Patient satisfaction is one area being utilized to rate performance of physician groups.
- Measures of patient-centered care will enable accrediting agencies and other organizations to determine the extent to which physicians provide such care and integrate these measures into reward or incentive programs.
- The California Pay for Performance Program is changing the way doctors are paid by targeting new performance measurements.6
- With quality measures including assessments of patient-centeredness, it is incumbent upon physicians and managed-care practices to incorporate methods and tools to enhance the involvement of patients.
- Patient-centered care reduces the risk of malpractice lawsuits:
- The Physician Insurers Association of America found that 35% of malpractice claims reported that "failure to communicate with or instruct patient" was the principle or secondary reason for the claims.Ibid
- Communication saves time and decreases the risk of litigation.7
- "...when physicians practice patient-centered medicine, the risk factors predisposing to malpractice suits are reduced"8
- The two principles of reducing liability exposure and increasing economic benefit are improving patient satisfaction and involving patients in their own care.9
- Patient-centered care increases patient loyalty.
The Miles Institute of Health Care Communication found 25% of patients leave a doctor because of poor communication and not being sufficiently involved in decision-making.10
- Patient-centered care saves time.
"You save a lot of time down the road if you inform patients along the way, they won't return in a confused, miserable state because they don't understand what is happening to them."Ibid
The TalkToYourDoc (TTYD) web-based questionnaire promotes patient centeredness and minimizes difficulties patients commonly experience during communication with their healthcare providers. The medical history and personalized questions a patient brings to discuss with her health care provider improves communication, satisfaction and visit efficiency.
Most importantly, TTYD encourages partnership between women and their doctors. This partnership results in medical decisions that involve a more active and empowered role for patients. Increased empowerment provided by TTYD promotes long lasting communicative and health benefits.
- Networking for Better Health Care: Health Care in the Information Age. Benton Foundation. Available at: www.benton.org/Library/health.
- Blendon RJ, Schoen C, DesRoches C, Osborn R, Zapert K. Common concerns amid diverse systems: health care experiences in five countries. Health Aff (Millwood). May-Jun 2003;22(3):106-121.
- Mechanic D, McAlpine DD, Rosenthal M. Are patients' office visits with physicians getting shorter? N Engl J Med. Jan 18 2001;344(3):198-204.
- Envisioning A National Health Care Quality Report. Washington, D.C.: Institute of Medicine; March 30, 2001.
- 2005 Annual Report: Patient-Centered Primary Care Initiative. New York: The Commonwealth Fund; 2005.
- Girion L. Ratings to Affect Doctors' Wallets. Los Angeles Times. February 6, 2006, 2006;Business.
- Eastaugh SR. Reducing litigation costs through better patient communication. Physician Exec. May-Jun 2004;30(3):36-38.
- Forster HP, Schwartz J, DeRenzo E. Reducing legal risk by practicing patient-centered medicine. Arch Intern Med. Jun 10 2002;162(11):1217-1219.
- Saxton JW. How to increase economic returns and reduce liability exposure: Part 1--Patient satisfaction as an economic tool. J Med Pract Manage. Nov-Dec 2001;17(3):142-144.
- Terry K. Telling patients more will save you time. Med Econ. Jul 25 1994;71(14):40, 43, 46 passim.