More than just a momentary trend or buzzword, patient-centered care has evolved over the years to become a real movement with big implications to healthcare delivery across the United States. But what does it mean to center a care philosophy around the patient? And what benefits of patient-centered care are available for healthcare employers who make the investment in this new model of care?
What Is Patient-Centered Care, and Why Does It Matter?
In basic terms, patient-centered care is just what it sounds like — the process of making the patient the priority of the entire care continuum. Yet while that may be an easy enough concept to grasp, the practical implications of true patient-centered care are extensive, and usually require re-thinking not only clinical processes but core organizational priorities.
Given the difficult logistics of truly patient-centered care, it should come as little surprise that a number of different models have risen up for achieving this elusive goal. A 2019 survey of patient-centered care found 17 different definitions, each published in a separate research paper. “Moreover, the definitions of PCC were broad,” the authors note, “and often lacked specific descriptions of what PCC includes.”
Yet even given this differentiation over a specific definition of patient-centered care, there are some widely agreed-upon principles for achieving it, including:
- Customizing care to a patient’s precise needs, rather than fitting them into pre-configured routines
- Giving patients the power to choose a preferred model of diagnosis and treatment — and the time and information needed to make the best possible decision
- An emphasis on shared decision-making that involves the patient and their families in care plan management
- An emphasis on shared information, not only to the patient but also their families or caregivers
Organizations seeking more defined standards to follow can consult the many guidelines and resources available from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and the Johns Hopkins University’s Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.
5 Key Benefits of Patient-Centered Care
Given the complexity and ambiguity involved, why should American healthcare employers bother? What benefits of patient-centered care can they expect from investing in this type of patient care?
#1: Expanded reimbursement and revenue
Patient-centered care is frequently cited as a means to achieve the goals of value-based care, as defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Adapting workflows to the requirements defined by CMS can help providers earn more reimbursement dollars for the services they already provide, as well as offer a lucrative basis for expanding services into new areas of patient care.
#2: Improved outcomes
A vast number of clinical studies connect patient-centered care with improvements in patient outcomes, patient satisfaction and adherence to treatment. One 2015 survey found that, among those with heart disease, the benefits of patient-centered care included “improved clinical status, quality of life, and self-care, less symptom burden, more effective discharge processes, and shorter hospital stays.”
#3: Better management of chronic disease
Putting patients at the center of their treatment has been a central part in the ongoing revolution in chronic care management. Conditions that once frequently required lengthy hospital stays, such as COPD or heart disease, are now being successfully treated at home. And doing so helps boost patient engagement and satisfaction by making treatment more comfortable and engaging.
#4: Better continuity of care
Because patient-centered care builds processes around patients, it helps ensure continuity of care during transitions, whether from hospital to home or any other facility where patient care is provided. And studies have shown that better continuity of care leads to lower costs via “decreased health utilization including hospitalization and emergency visits,” as well as “improved patient satisfaction.”
#5: Lower operational expenses
As we’ve seen, a focus on patient-centered care can help lower operational costs by reducing utilization and better managing chronic disease, which is by far the biggest source of spending in the American healthcare system. And, in general, keeping a closer watch on a patient’s day-to-day needs will give providers better chances to detect any potential issues before more costly intervention is needed.
Seize the Benefits of Patient-Centered Care with CareerStaff
As one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare staffing and managed services, CareerStaff specializes in connecting organizations with the clinical workforce solutions they need to seize the benefits of patient-centered care. Contact us here to learn more about how we can help your organization meet its patient care needs, or click here to submit a staffing request now.