What is Patient-Centered Care?

The medical field is constantly changing. From new health interventions to changing policies and health insurance programs, it can be difficult to keep up -- for patients and professionals alike. That is why many healthcare providers are taking a step back, re-evaluating the way healthcare is provided, and focusing their efforts on patient-centered care.

What Is Patient-Centered Care?

Patient-centered care is a healthcare approach that focuses on the diverse needs and interests of each patient. The core principle of patient-centered care emphasizes building healthy relationships between patients and all members of the medical care team. In fact, the patient-centered care approach considers all personnel working at a medical facility as part of the care team. This includes housekeeping aides, members of the financial services department, orderlies, nurses and doctors.

Creating a Team

By incorporating everyone into the team responsible for providing excellent patient care, medical facilities are able to create a culture of patient-centered attitudes and behaviors. This perspective recognizes that a patient's experience with a healthcare facility is dependent on everything from the quality of food, comfort of linens and communication with staff members. As a result, the patient-centered care model requires that all personnel are joined together in the goal of providing stellar care to each patient.

Including the Family

In addition to healthcare facility staff, the families and friends of patients are also considered part of the care team. The primary goal of the patient-centered care perspective is to honor the wishes of the patient and make them feel as comfortable as possible. Because patients often respect the input of their loved ones in making medical decisions, the patient-centered care approach takes all of these views into account.

Respecting Individuality

In medical practice, patient-centered care is focused on identifying and honoring the preferences of the patient. For example, some patients find music or conversation soothing, which can reduce stress and facilitate healing. Other patients prefer quiet or would rather play puzzle games to distract from the discomfort. Additionally, patient-centered care emphasizes patient safety above all else. This may mean requiring flu vaccinations for all staff members and promoting effective hand-washing techniques with posted placards.

Patient-Centered Care Is Also Good for Providers

Though patient-centered care is founded on the principle of doing what is best for the patient, healthcare providers receive incredible benefits as well. For example, a patient-centered care approach can save healthcare providers thousands of dollars in unnecessary testing, prescriptions and hospitalizations. Historically, some medical professionals have built a reputation of disregarding patient opinions. Instead, medical professionals would respond to a patient's symptoms reflexively by ordering tests and throwing prescriptions at the patient. However, many patients do not want prescriptions and are seeking advice regarding natural or home remedies. Patient-centered care is about listening to the patient and responding to his or her unique case.

How Can Nurses Adopt a Patient-Centered Care Approach?

Nurses are vast resources of medical information, but sometimes the most important part about being a nurse is recognizing what you do not know. Nurses can adopt a patient-centered care approach by connecting with each patient on a personal level. Learn about the patients and ask questions about their values, preferences and interests.

Putting the Patient in the Driver's Seat

Also, the patient-centered care approach is unlike any other medical philosophy in that it gives control back to the patient. Patients should be treated as authorities on themselves and their symptoms. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that patients are the most important members of the treatment team and should be treated as such. When you adopt a patient-centered care approach, you will find yourself coordinating care with the patient rather than determining care protocols without the patient's input.

How Can I Improve My Patient-Centered Care Skills?

The patient-centered care approach is a new perspective that takes time and practice to adopt. The best way to hone these skills is by getting specialized training such as that found in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. The patient-centered care approach is highly valued and woven throughout the online RN to BSN program at The University of New Mexico.

If you are interested in learning more about patient-centered care and developing these skills, consider pursing an online RN to BSN degree. Not only will you gain powerful skills that will make you more desirable to employers, but you will also be trained in a patient-centered care perspective that will make you a favorite among patients.

Learn more about The University of New Mexico's online RN to BSN program.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Patient-Centered Care

Health Affairs: Patient-Centered Care: What It Means and How to Get There

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