Patient-centered care (PCC) is fast becoming a driving force behind American healthcare delivery, as well as a source of many benefits for the organizations that successfully implement it. And for those that have yet to do so, there’s no better time, given new innovations in technology and clinical best practices. That said, how can organizations tell what type of patient-centered care model is best for them?
What Is Patient-Centered Care, and How Does It Benefit Operators?
The practice of putting patients at the center of the entire healthcare process, patient-centered care has been shown to offer some pretty substantial advantages to operators, including:
- More opportunities to expand reimbursement and revenue
- Better continuity of care
- A means to improve patient outcomes, satisfaction, and adherence to treatment
- The power to more efficiently and effectively manage patients with chronic conditions, the biggest cost in the U.S. healthcare system
> Take a deeper dive into the benefits of patient-centered care
Yet if the benefits of PCC seem clear, the path to actually implementing it is less so. Indeed, this is a longstanding challenge. While each model “should be tailored to the individual’s clinical needs, living conditions, and personal preferences, little is known about how to do so,” pointed out the authors of a 2021 study published in Journal of Education and Health Promotion.
How to Create a Patient-Centered Care Model: 7 Core Principles
For facilities looking for a standard to follow, the medical home model is the best-known and most widely used option. Known formally as the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) and offered officially by the CDC, a number of organizations provide guidance on this model, including the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
While the PCMH’s Joint Principles provide valuable guidelines for implementing PCC — including a host of helpful resources from the AHRQ — they don’t quite offer a specific model to follow. And that’s because there’s really no one-size-fits-all formula. Each patient-centered care model must be customized to meet each organization’s specific needs.
Where to begin, then? Whether created in-house or with the guidance of a third party, there are a handful of universal factors that should be considered when creating a model for patient-centered care. Informed by PCMH requirements and industry best practices, these include:
1. Start with the patient. Ideally, each patient-centered care model should be customized to the precise needs of each individual patient. Realistically, this most often is used for population health management, a common use case of the PCMH.
Meeting this objective means diving deep into your own operational information to analyze and understand key trends around patients and providers. It also means learning and respecting the care preferences, cultural traditions and socioeconomic situation of the communities you treat.
A practical way to do this is by “implementing patient satisfaction surveys, patient and family advisory councils, and focus groups,” explains a 2017 NEJM Catalyst Brief, “and using the resulting information to continuously improve the way health care facilities and provider practices are designed, managed, and maintained from both a physical and operational perspective so they become centered more on the individual person than on a checklist of services provided.”
2. Welcome the family. The inclusion of family or other personal caregivers is a core component to the concept of patient-centered care. Especially for chronic care or other high-acuity patients who may be unable to function on their own, family members are sometimes the principal decision makers.
3. Share data and decision-making with patients and families. An emphasis on shared decision making is another essential piece to every successful patient-centered care model. This also includes sharing new information quickly with patients, families and caregivers, so that their decisions are as informed as possible — and to reduce the stress associated with keeping them in suspense.
“Providers can work with patients to overcome power hierarchies by making a concerted effort to elicit patient input,” writes Sara Heath at PatientEngagementHIT. “This is best done during shared decision-making, when a clinician can inform patients about various treatment options, their expected outcomes, and then ask that patient her input about the ultimate care decision.”
4. Share responsibilities among clinicians. Patient-centered care is collaborative care, requiring informed participation from each healthcare professional involved. And thanks to advancements in EHR and telehealth technology, collaborative care is a more achievable goal than ever before. Virtual video makes communication quick and easy not just between doctors and patients, but among all clinicians.
According to the JEHP authors, successful care coordination also “increases the quality of health care and provides access to adequate patient information, improves patient empowerment, and reduces the rate of long hospital stays.”
5. Emphasize freedom of choice. Patient-centered care means giving patients the power to choose a preferred model of diagnosis and treatment, and giving families a voice in that decision, too. Although they don’t necessarily have veto power over every piece of the process, they should be given the time and information they need to understand the situation and come to a conclusion that they’re comfortable with.
6. Align the entire organization. Because patient-centered care is such a transformational concept, success requires integrating it across the entire organization — just getting leaders on board isn’t enough.
“Efforts to transform healthcare culture require robust, multi-pronged efforts at all levels of the organization; leadership is only the beginning,“ write the authors of a research article published by BMC Health Services Research.
This may be the hardest box to check for many operators. Meeting this standard could require rethinking the organization’s mission statement, the key performance indicators (KPIs) it measures to meet its goals, as well as its fundamental leadership styles.
7. Shore up your workforce capabilities. Finally, the use of an established, dedicated workforce solutions provider can help ensure that each facility realizes the optimum staffing levels needed to meet all of these objectives. It also helps better provide access to nurses and clinicians who are experienced in patient-centered care, and ready to bring those skills to work for your facility.
Workforce Solutions to Power Your Patient-Centered Care Model
As one of the nation’s leading providers of healthcare staffing and managed services, CareerStaff specializes in connecting operators and providers with the clinical workforce solutions they need to power their patient-centered care model. Contact us here to learn more about how we can help your organization, or click here to submit a staffing request now.