I get the impression from a recent post on KevinMD that a lot of physicians and other providers are having trouble with the term patient-centered. I can understand this given the penchant for us health care folks for using fancy names and acronyms to discuss otherwise straight forward concepts. The other day I came across a simple test for identifying a patient-centered provider when you actually encounter one. It can be used by patients to evaluate their physicians. Physicians, PAs, Nurses and other providers can also use this same tool to evaluate whether they are patient-centered nor not.
If you are a patient…
- Do you feel that your doctor is always trying to persuade you to follow their ideas of good health?
If you are a doctor or other provider…
- Are you always trying to persuade your patients to follow the care recommendations you have given them?
If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, then your doctor (or you if you are a provider) are not patient-centered. More than likely your physician/provider (or you) are physician-directed or provider-directed in their patient interactions.
How Can I Say This?
Patient-centered care is also known as collaborative care – you know – where doctors and patients share information and collaborate on decision-making. If your doctor (or you) were patient-centered, rather than tell you what you should be doing, they would routine engage you in the following types of conversations during your visit:
- Help you identify and address your primary concerns.
- Encourage you to talk about the emotional aspects of your health problems
- Help you identify and choose goals that are relevant and important to you
- Respect your right to make decisions with which they disagree
The problem with patient-centered care is that so few people, whether patient or provider, have ever really experienced it. Seriously…when was the last time your physician asked you what you wanted to discuss during your visit, asked if you agreed with their diagnosis or treatment, or ever asked you if you were depressed? When was the last time your doctor really listened to you rather than just going through the motions.
To this point, here’s a quote from a comment I received from a physician on my last post about the importance of being patient-centered.
I’ve come to realize how important listening is, not just to make patients feel good, but for a number of practical reasons. Most doctors, I fear, think of listening as something you do as little of as possible, just until you’ve made up your mind what the patient has and what the doc is going to do about it. Beyond that it becomes a passive exercise, essentially a waste of time.
WOW! My Doctor Actually Listened To Me!!
As a practice administrator or hospital executive, can you image how powerful it would be if patients walked out of your facilities telling their family and friends that their doctors (including hospitalists) actually took the time to listen to them?
Listen to patients….my God what a novel concept!!
That’s my opinion…what’s yours?
Anderson, R. M., & Funnell, M. M. (2010). Patient Empowerment: Myths and Misconceptions. Patient Education & Counseling, 79(3), 277-282.