Patient-centered care models are becoming widely recognized as a key to improving quality of care, patient experience and outcomes, as well as decreasing health care costs. Physician practices are increasingly adopting patient-centered care delivery models. In a survey of more than 100 primary care practices conducted by the Care Continuum Alliance, one third of respondents reported having already adopted a patient-centered model of care. So what exactly encompasses patient-centered care?
Patient-centered care is fundamentally different from traditional care delivery. Unlike traditional fee-for-service models, patient-centered care is based on value, not necessarily volume. A care team is responsible for providing all the patient's health care needs, including appropriate referral to other qualified physicians as needed, and coordinating care across care settings. Emphasis is placed on increased accessibility through open scheduling, expanded hours, and secured emailing driving strong communication between patients/caregivers, physicians and staff. Because patient-centered care models seek to proactively promote wellness and prevent chronic illness, rather than reactively treating disease, they involve heavy use of evidence-based guidelines. Patient engagement is central to patient-centered care, and patient preferences are important considerations in designing care plans and evaluating treatment options. Technology touches each of these components in a very real way and is key in achieving a patient-centered care delivery models.
Popular patient-centered care delivery models include the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) and Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), but practices do not necessarily have to transform into PCMHs or ACOs in order to deliver patient-centered care. Patient-centered care plays a key role in number of health reform initiatives, including Meaningful Use.