The buzz about being patient-centered is not just hype, the patient-centered movement is very real and there is much to gain.  The primary premise of the patient-centered movement is that by building stronger relationships with patients they will be healthier.  Healthier patients mean a healthier population.  A healthier population reduces healthcare expenses which have soared in the United States over the past few years. Reducing these expenses is a goal that health plans are increasingly willing to pay practices to help achieve.

Understanding what it means to be patient-centered is a complex process as it intends to recognize patients in terms of their own social worlds.  This means throughout the patients’ healthcare experience they should be respected, listened to, informed and involved in their care.  It is believed that shared decision-making results in better compliance and reduces health risk factors.   Focusing on individual patient’s needs an applying evidence-based medicine is meant to improve the healthcare population.

Insurance companies, recognizing these factor,s are in the process of implementing financial incentives and bonus structures based on key elements that improve the delivery of health care and manage costs by reducing complications and emergency room visits, and by complying with best preventive practices.

Your intentions to be more patient-centered can be reached by:

  1. Strengthening the patient clinical partnership;
  2. Promoting communication about things that mater to the patient;
  3. Helping patients know more about their health and healthcare needs;
  4. Facilitating patients’ and caregivers involvement in the patient’s care; and
  5. Setting metrics to measure improvement.

Being patient-centered is rewarding for your practice in so many ways: happier patients, potential financial upside, and stronger relationships between providers and patients.

All of these themes are discussed in greater depth in my and Cheryl Bisera’s new book:  The Patient-Centered Payoff (click the link to see the book’s page on Amazon).

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