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Patient-Centric Care? Are doctors really onboard? Research says perhaps not.

August 11, 2011
We talk a lot about patient-centric care.  Recent research, however, shows we may have a long way to go on the cultural front to really make it happen.

Patients want to be more involved in the decision-making process of their care and can fare better, but physician attitudes may not be consistent with that goal, according to an editorial in the Guardian. From a summary in FierceHealth.com:

“Forty-eight percent of patients want to be more involved in treatment decisions, according to a white paper from healthcare advocacy group The King's Fund. However, the recent survey of American and British physicians showed that most clinicians think patients' primary function was to follow medical advice; doctors were less likely to endorse patient involvement in care decisions about treatment, risk, and costs of services, according to the editorial. Although patients seem to value the opportunity to make their own care decisions, clinicians cited reasons, including not having enough time, low patient interest, and patients desiring costly treatment, as reasons not to involve them heavily.

The white paper called for physicians to change their attitudes and encourage patients to become active participants in their care rather than passive recipients of medical treatment, especially for screening and diagnostic tests, medical or surgical procedures, management education or psychological intervention, medications, and lifestyle changes, according to the report.

The patients that benefited the most from decision involvement were those with long-term conditions, indicating that they had more autonomy and better outcomes.  Patient engagement may become increasingly important in managing care outside the hospital with reimbursements closely tied to readmissions and chronic conditions.”

What does this mean for human resources and selection?  Process is only part of the solution.  Hiring at every level of the organization, including physicians, plays a key role in ensuring that we bring people into the organization with the attitudes and competencies to actively engage patients in their care.

We can talk about changing the way care is delivered, all we want, but if these are the attitudes of the care providers, we won’t make much progress.

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.