Person Centered Care: An Important Part of Health Reform Initiatives

In Long Term Care, the buzzword for some time has been about Person Centered Care (PCC). Now PCC practices (outlined here) are catching on as part of larger reform efforts to improve the health care delivery system. A recent article in Health Affairs, outlines the potential that PCC has for reform efforts and suggests that it is key component of any enhance health care services and reduce costs. The authors report on the work that the National Partnership for Women and Families has conducted to collect information from consumers about what works best for them regarding their care.

Sometimes call Patient-Centered or Resident-Centered Care, PCC focuses on empowering care recipients to make decisions about their treatments, to treat the “whole person”, and establish open lines of communication between the provider and the client.

The authors of the article suggest that our health system has evolved in such a way that numerous stakeholders in the health care process have grown out of touch with consumer needs. These stakeholders exist up and down the treatment system, from the payer’s office to the care floor. The authors suggest that promoting PCC as a philosophy will enhance health care by giving care providers tools to design a treatment context that is responsive to the human needs of their care recipients. In short, it will promote an end to treating them as discrete diagnoses and more as individuals.

Traditionally, medicine focused heavily on care-compliance as a means of engaging patients in their own care. PCC practice suggests having a better understanding of the motives a patient has for choosing their course of treatment; rather than being reprimanded. A promising area of practice has been in areas of woman’s health; especially in newer models of pre and post-natal hospital care, which offer flexible birth plan arrangements and home-like environments for mothers and their families.

The authors suggest that health care providers invest modest time and effort into understanding the needs of their clients regarding health education, communication styles, care planning, etc. The health care system has made many reforms in the past decades to become more responsive to patient needs; however, much more needs to be done.


Source: Bechtel, C., Ness, D. 2010. If you build it, will they come? Designing truly patient-centered health care. Health Affairs 29:914-920.

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