A view into patient-centred care

On the surface, patient-centred care is an unspoken, agreed-upon practice in every patient appointment and interaction—all health care professionals are trained to listen to the concerns of and care for their patients. However, what patient-centred care means may differ from physician to physician, and its definition, which is not universally agreed-upon, has changed over time.

What is patient-centred care?

Today, a new kind of patient is emerging—an active team member who is involved and engaged in their care. In a patient-centred clinic, the patient’s specific health needs are the end goal of care, and the patient drives all their health care decisions. For today’s physician, doing what’s needed to meet the patient’s goals becomes the guidepost for quality care.

What does it look like?

Picture this: Mr. Tremblay just found out he has prostate cancer. He’s 65 and healthy. Now he has some big decisions to make. The urologist knows Mr. Tremblay has several treatment options: keeping a close eye on it, removing the growth in surgery, or trying external or internal means of radiation. What should Mr. Tremblay do? And who should make the decision?

According to this case study in Stacey and Légaré,1 Mr. Tremblay’s health care team took several steps to ensure they thoroughly informed him of the care map. They gave him consultations and decision-making tools, asked about his values and knowledge of his options. In return visits, his nurses with decision-coaching training checked his knowledge and walked him through his options. All this took place before Mr. Tremblay made his final decision in consultation with the urologist: he chose a prostatectomy. It was the right fit. It aligned with his desire for active treatment that didn’t include internal radiation or any risk of bowel problems.

Does it work?

Yes! And there are many reasons that the World Health Organization has made patient-centred care a priority.

Patient-centred care often makes for better care. There is great value in an environment with open communication, structured around setting goals you can measure, all as a team. Patient healthcare becomes a partnership, a team effort. When you legitimize the patient’s illness experience, acknowledge their expertise, offer hope, and provide advocacy, this leads to better overall patient care.2

Sadly, there’s a misconception that patients don’t want to make these decisions. In reality, over 90% of patients want to be involved in shared decision-making, but only 50% are. Often, the patients less heard are those who are more vulnerable or face systemic barriers.2

Another myth is that it may take too long in the patient visit to adopt the patient-centred care model. The truth is, focusing around patient-centred, team-directed goals showed no difference in the length of the appointment time.2 Patient-interactions can be more efficient with the right techniques.

What can we do to adopt patient-centred care?

Creating more educational tools and resources and making the evidence more readily available to health care professionals will help support the adoption of patient-centred care practices. Tools could include more decision aids for patients, training in decision coaching for the entire health care team, and more formalized partnerships between doctors and patients that follow a true patient-centred model that an entire health care team can follow.

Educational videos are one place to start that can be readily available to large numbers of health care providers almost instantly. Consider the mED TALK video series—user-friendly, customized, informal and informative health care content designed specifically for health care professionals.

Stay informed. Be an advocate. Trust your patient. Let’s strive for patient-centred care to be the norm.

Check out this mED TALK video’s highlights of the evidence supporting patient-centred care.

Learn more about what Our Solutions can do to help you in your practice.

Further Reading
  1. Stacey D, Légaré F. Engaging clinical teams in an interprofessional approach to shared decision making. Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal. 2015;25(4):455-461.
  2. Montague T, et al. Patient-centred care in Canada: key components and the path forward. Healthcare Quarterly. 2017;20(1):50-56.