I remember first learning about Patient-Centered medical care during the very early months of my medical school training. We had classes and online study modules that taught us about this method of healthcare that focused on the specific needs and wishes of the patient. I remember thinking to myself, “Well of course that make sense! Why would any health care worker not wish to provide patient-centered care?” Almost every medical student goes into medicine because they want to help people. The idea of patient centered care (PCC) is an intentional technique to assist physicians in helping their patients in the best way possible.
When a healthcare provider is practicing PCC, they begin by listening to the patient. Truly listening. Not just “hearing” the patient speak while the doctor catches up on notes from the last patient. And not just letting the patient get half of a sentence in before their provider interrupts. PCC begins with the physician sitting down with the patient, removing all distractions, making eye contact, and letting them speak. Allowing your patient to speak
will reveal so much more of what is really going on with the patient than any OLDCARTS questions will ever disclose.
In addition, patient-centered care involves building a relationship with the patient and walking alongside them in their care. Rather than the physician alone deciding what is best for the patient and telling the patient what is going to be done, PCC involves the physician and the patient coming to a treatment plan together, based on the values and needs of the individual
patient. The team approach is used to help coordinate care among physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, etc. One of the best examples of PCC I have seen during my clinical rotations is the Multi-Disciplinary Cystic Fibrosis clinic at LeBonheur. At this clinic, a patient can come to one office at one appointment time and will be seen by their pulmonologist, a pharmacist, a dietician, a respiratory therapist, and more. This type of clinic puts the patient first by moving 5+ different appointments into one morning or afternoon session.
As a healthcare provider, it can be very difficult at times to prevent oneself from getting caught up in the busyness surrounding them, and thus forgetting the whole reason he or she went into medicine. PCC acts as a reminder to physicians that we are not here to complete another task or write another patient note – we are here to care for people in the way that we would wish others would care for us. PCC reminds us to slow down and listen to our patients, to get to know them and their values and goals and allow that to direct their care. A patient who feels like their doctor truly cares about them is more likely to comply with their treatment plan and return for future visits. A patient who feels like their voice was heard when designing his or her treatment plan with the doctor is much more likely to take an active role in their own care. Patient-centered healthcare reminds us, as healthcare providers, that we are here to put our patients first.