Patient-Centered Care: It Takes a Village

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<p>The term "patient-centered care" has been in use for a long time, but what does it really entail? In a <a href="/publications/journal-article/2010/aug/why-nation-needs-policy-push-patient-centered-health-care">new <em>Health Affairs</em> article</a> written with support from The Commonwealth Fund and the ABIM Foundation, Ronald M. Epstein, M.D., and colleagues argue that efforts to make health care more patient-centered are too often limited to infrastructure and information technology improvements. They say true patient-centered care involves much more than that.</p>
<p>At its core, patient-centered care is about the "healing relationship" between physicians and patients—one grounded in strong communication and trust, the author say. It means providers engaging in a two-way dialogue with patients and their families, sharing information, exploring patients' values and preferences, and helping patients and families with clinical decisions. Among many other benefits, the patient-centered approach has been shown to improve health care outcomes and quality of life, increase adherence to care plans, reduce costs, and narrow racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in care. </p>
<p>Certainly, investments in infrastructure and health information technology are needed to facilitate patient-centered care, the authors say. But it is just as necessary for policymakers to set specific performance targets, medical educators to teach and assess interpersonal skills, consumer advocates to encourage greater patient involvement in shared decision-making, and health care organizations to foster a culture of patient-centeredness. </p>
<p>For additional information and resources on patient-centered care and medical homes, visit the Patient-Centered Care page on </p>