by Laura Meyer, UTHSC College of Pharmacy, Class of 2020
To me patient centered care means that we as health care providers take a step back and put our patients in charge of their own health and wellness. When people feel empowered they are more likely to follow through on a commitment than when someone else tells them to do something just because. I think that instead of going to the doctor to ‘solve’ a medical problem, patients really just want someone knowledgeable that they can have a personal relationship with, communicate and ask the unaskable questions to, and for someone to give them empathy. When these things happen, I think the patient becomes more invested in taking care of their health conditions. This is the ideal relationship to promote health, improve clinical outcomes, and increase satisfaction of care.
Not every person values the same things when it comes to health care and treatment. Patient centered care means that you take this into account and respect the patients’ autonomy regarding the choices they make governing their body. This can be especially important when we talk about underserved populations who may not have the financial means to afford treatment for all of their comorbidities. In this situation, some patients may be forced to pick and choose what medical conditions need the most attention and financial resources, while others get put on the back burner. In this type of scenario, it is so important to have the patient front and center in the decision-making process. This gives the patient respect and dignity and shows that their values are recognized.
Putting the patient in the driver’s seat when it comes to health care means that the patients
understanding of their condition and prognosis is of the up most importance. As health care
professionals, sometimes we get caught up in diagnosing, prescribing, and moving on to the next patient. However, the reason we are all here is to serve our patients, and the best way to do so is through patient education and allowing them access to information regarding their health. Spending time on patient education is patient centered care and can make a huge difference in the promotion of health, especially in underserved patient populations where medical literacy tends to be low.
Lastly, I feel that patient centered care means that the patients have access to care when they need it. This means they are able to get to the offices, it is easy to make appointments, and patients are able to easily find information on how to seek out specialty services. When patients feel they have access to health care this is ideal for promoting health because if it is easy to access, patients have the power to make it happen. Patient centered care is the ideal relationship for promoting health especially among underserved populations because it gives patients autonomy in meeting their health care needs, it puts patient education at the center of the health care professionals purpose, and allows for ease of access to health care services. As health care professionals, we should all strive to provide patient centered care.