In the first article in this series, we looked at the Institute of Medicine’s STEEEP acronym, which stands for care that is Safe, Timely, Effective, Efficient, Equitable, and Patient-Centered. Patient-centered care is the sixth and final pillar.
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement describes patient centered-ness by stating, “The individual patient’s culture, social context, and specific needs deserve respect, and the patient should play an active role in making decisions about her own care. That concept is especially vital today, as more people require chronic rather than acute care.”
As patients, we are becoming ever-more literate and connected to our healthcare teams. Instead of viewing us and our families as a patron of a healthcare practice, medical providers should treat us as key partners in the healthcare team. We are the decision makers in our care. Our care team’s job is to educate and provide a range of alternatives (when possible), and allow us and our families to make decisions about our care based on our preferences and cultural contexts.
Consider evaluating the following areas of your care, or your medical practice for patient-centeredness:
Policies: Does the practice or clinic have “rules worth breaking?” Are there protocols in place such as visiting hours or off-limits areas that could be flexible based on patient preferences?
Committees and Decisions: Are patients included in the clinic’s committees, boards, or other decision making groups? When committees make decisions, does someone in the room always ask how it will affect and/or be communicated to patients?
Partnerships: Are patients asked to be the decision-makers in their care, as opposed to being given a treatment regime? Are families asked to be involved in decision making when possible?
Coordination: Is care coordinated on the patient’s behalf as much as possible? Are handoffs between medical practices seamless, or do they require the patient to be in the middle of key information transfers?
This ends our series on the six key elements of quality. If you would like to know more, or if you have questions in the future, please feel free to e-mail me.