What Does ‘Patient-Centered’ Care Mean?
Patient-centered care. It seems like a given. Isn’t all health care focused on the person receiving medical care – the patient?
The answer to that question is as complicated as the health care system itself. Of course, health practitioners diagnose and treat patients according to each patient’s health concerns. But the way that care is delivered may not reflect what’s best for each patient’s individual circumstance. Sometimes, care is provided in a manner or setting that is most expedient for the health care system. And that can create waste, redundancy, unnecessary expense, and poor outcomes for patients.
On the other hand, patient-centered care is a way of redesigning workflows and processes so that each patient gets the right care, at the right time, and in the most appropriate setting. For example, doctors change their scheduling patterns so they can see a patient with progressing diabetes or asthma symptoms in the office, provide treatment and prevent a trip to the emergency room. Or, doctors connect to secure information networks so they can instantly obtain a patient’s test results, enabling them to make an accurate care decision and prevent the need for that patient to have tests repeated.
In the patient-centered medical home model, the care team considers all the factors that can affect someone’s health, including a patient’s support networks; behavioral health; access to resources, food and transportation; and other factors. PCMH practices also actively track patient’s preventive screenings and reach out to the patient when necessary tests are due.
Michigan has led the nation in redesigning health care to a patient-centered focus. Through the Blue Cross Patient-Centered Medical Home program, more than 4,645 physicians in 1,700 practices across the state have transformed their practices to provide holistic, patient-centered care. This team-based, proactive model of care has reduced hospitalizations and ER visits, prevented disease, and led to better care outcomes for patients statewide.
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