Patient-Centered Care – For the Good of the Patient

In a new blog series, Dr. Bill Moreau, UWS chief medical officer, will provide his thoughts from the field of integrated health care and his longstanding experience providing top-tier health care.

By: Bill Moreau, DC, DACBSP, FACSM, UWS chief medical officer

Dr. Bill Moreau

We often hear the term “patient-centered care.” This term certainly sounds inspiring and seems to resonate with both health care providers and patients alike. It seems obvious that a health care provider’s care should be centered on delivering what is in the best interest of the patient. If you consider the definition of patient-centered care to mean that the individual’s specific health needs and desired outcomes from care drive all the health care decisions of both the patient and their health care team it makes sense the patient’s health care providers need to collaborate with one another. Clearly the patient needs to have the right to personal autonomy and still be a part of the team approach to health care.

From a clinician’s standpoint, for the patient to really benefit and experience care that is centered on their best interests their health care team must have a functional relationship. A health care team’s functional relationship occurs when the providers understand the other health care providers care interventions and recognize their own personal role in impacting not only the health of the patient but also the potential effects of their cares on other health care providers cares. The care should be collaborative, coordinated and accessible. The right care should be provided at the right time and the right place.

There are many barriers to patient-centered care including economics, lack of access, technology, language and many other potential hurdles. Patient-centered care takes time and effort. For the patient to be the center of care there needs to be a shared decision-making whereby the benefits and risks of any intervention is explained in enough detail that the patient can make an informed decision and what they would like to do. The average individual sees more than one health care provider on a routine basis. While the actual number of health care providers involved with any one patient is patient-specific it is logical that no one provider manages for all the needs of most patients.

Patient-centered care from a holistic perspective is not possible if the multiple providers are not in communication with one another. The communication can be as simple as shared access to a common electronic health record to the complexities of integrated health care centers where most of the patient’s health care providers all work together within the same building. These types of integrated centers in a single clinical setting are becoming more common but the majority remain separated. One solution for health care providers who are driven to help their patients to enjoy the benefits of an integrated care team is for the health care providers themselves to build virtual and collaborative care teams.

These top five takeaways can aid in ensuring care delivery is patient-centered:

  1. The patient’s right to personal autonomy can include a team approach to health care.
  2. One best practice to drive favorable health care outcomes is the necessity of collaboration between various health care providers.
  3. Three keys to improved delivery of health care include collaboration, coordination and access.
  4. Patient centered care requires the patient to be engaged and considered as a partner of the health care team.
  5. Patient-centered care takes time and effort.