8 principles of patient-centered care
Patient-centered care (otherwise known as a "patient-centric” approach to medicine, healthcare, and the associated processes and technology) represents a paradigm shift in how patients, providers, and other participants think about the processes of treatment and healing.
Defined by the Institute of Medicine as the act of "providing care that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient preferences, needs and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions," patient-centered care prizes transparency, compassion, and empowerment.
The rise of patient-centered care makes way for a healthcare system designed to optimize the agency and comfort of the most important and vulnerable people in the equation: patients, their families, and their communities.Patient-centered care is a far-ranging new view of healthcare that resists simple summation. But there are a few consistent core ideas that guide this new style of care. Researchers from Harvard Medical School, on behalf of Picker Institute and The Commonwealth Fund, identify Picker's Eight Principles of Patient-Centered Care.
1. Respect for Patients' Preferences - At every step, patients should be given the needed information to make thoughtful decisions about their care. Those preferences should always be considered when determining the best course of action for that patient. The expertise and authority of practitioners should complement and enhance the patient perspective. Everyone involved is always on the same team, working toward the same goal.
2. Coordination and Integration of Care - Every aspect of care depends on every other aspect working as efficiently and effectively as possible. Treatment and patient experience must be considered as an integrated whole, with different moving parts working in concert. Providers must cooperate in the interest of the patient's overall well-being.
3. Information and Education - Justice Louis D. Brandeis said of journalism, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." The same principle holds true for healthcare. When patients are fully informed, given the trust and respect that comes with sharing all relevant facts, they will feel more empowered to take responsibility for the elements of their care that are within their control.
4. Physical Comfort - Patients must summon the courage to face circumstances that are scary, painful, lonely, and difficult. Strong pain relief and a soft pillow can go a long way. Providers should work to ensure that the details of patients' environments are working for them, rather than against them. Patients should remain as safe and comfortable as possible through difficult straits, surrounded by people equipped to care for them.
5. Emotional Support - Challenges of treating and healing the body can also take their toll on the mind and the heart. Practicing patient-centered care means recognizing the patient as a whole person, having a multi-dimensional human experience, eager for knowledge and human connection, who may need extra, specialized help in keeping up the spirit of optimism.
6. Involvement of Family and Friends - Life can't exist in a vacuum. It takes a village to care for a patient. Patient-centered care encourages keeping patients involved and integrated with their families, their communities, and their everyday lives. Practitioners should get to know the whole picture of a patient's life, including the people involved who can provide the sort of support professionals sometimes cannot.
7. Continuity and Transition - A transition from one phase of care to the next should be as fluid and seamless as possible. Patients should be well informed about what to expect. Treatment regimens, especially medication regiments, should be clearly outlined and understood. And everyone involved should be able to plan, and understand what warning signs (and positive indicators) to look out for.
8. Access to Care - To the extent that it's possible, patients should have access to all the care they need, when they need it, in a manner that's convenient and doesn't inflict too much added stress. It should be simple to schedule appointments, stick to medication regimens, and practice self-care.
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