Public Health

How do you make health care more patient-centered?

There has been a lot of hype about patient-centeredness, but what concrete steps can be taken to make sure the end user–the patient–has significant input into today’s health care system? A recent paper by Oehrlein et al. (2020) provides 18 concrete recommendations to follow. Below, I highlight just a few of these.

  • Plain language communication: All forms of communication should be easily accessible and in language that is clear and easy to understand.
  • Designing clinical trials with patients in mind: Research study and clinical trial designs must include patient engagement to ensure resulting evidence reflects patient needs and expectations;
  • Patient-centered value assessment. Value frameworks and resulting assessments must reflect the patient’s voice, including consideration of patient experiences, preferences, and outcomes of importance to them. All clinical outcome assessments (i.e., patient-, caregiver-, and clinician-reported outcomes) should address concepts patients identify as most important and be incorporated into quality improvement initiatives, medical product development, value assessment, and care delivery.
  • Treatment options and cost. Patients should be informed, in language they understand, about their coverage; how coverage and payment decisions are made and can be appealed; choice of providers and provider options; all treatment options (including non-treatment); the costs of their coverage and care; and provider incentives or restrictions that can influence practice patterns.
  • Going beyond physical health improvements. Care delivery must consider not only the physical impact of disease but also mental, emotional, social, and behavioral determinants of health, and other social implications such as financial toxicity, transportation challenges, stigma.
  • Linking reimbursement to patient-centeredness. Value-based care and payment models should include patient-centered quality and outcome measures

While there is much to be done to improve how best to tailor the health system to meet patient needs, these principles are a good starting place.


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