February 12, 2024

Innovative Strategies for Patient-Centered Care

The physician-patient relationship has evolved from the traditional treatment model, where doctors make decisions on behalf of the patient. Today, a more collaborative and patient-centered approach is taking center stage. It's no longer a one-way process; instead, it's a dynamic partnership where patients are empowered to make informed decisions about their health.

But how do you effectively transition to this patient-centered model?

A successful patient-centered model necessitates one crucial element: effective communication.

The American Medical Association (AMA) offers innovative strategies under STEPS Forward® Practice Innovation to enhance patient communication, identify health risk factors, facilitate collaboration with specialists, and refine care transitions.

Let's discuss these pivotal strategies that can assist physicians in realigning their medical practice toward a more empathetic and patient-focused model.

Actionable Toolkits to Improve Patient-Centered Care

Private practices transitioning to patient-centered care may encounter formidable hurdles without a well-defined strategy.

Here's a list of resources to help you transition smoothly.

1. Collaborative Approach

Diabetes ranks as the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. Managing this complex condition requires a concerted effort from patients and their healthcare providers. Early intervention in prediabetic patients is pivotal to preventing the progression of diabetes. Fortunately, even simple interventions can yield significant improvements.

Here are eight streamlined steps for efficient team-based diabetes and prediabetes screening and management:

  1. Engage Your Team
  2. Evaluate the Impact of Poor Glycemic Control
  3. Focus on One Aspect of Diabetes Care
  4. Address One Aspect of Prediabetes Care
  5. Pilot an Intervention with Your Team
  6. Support Patients with Education
  7. Implement Shared Decision-Making
  8. Screen for Social Determinants of Health

2. Promote Equity in Healthcare

Residing in a diverse community underscores the importance of culturally sensitive communication in tackling health disparities. Effective patient care hinges on understanding patients' unique backgrounds and values for tailored care.

Preparing your healthcare team for essential conversations about health equity, racial equity, racism, and anti-racism is vital, as it cultivates trust and engagement.

To advance racial and health equity in private practices, the AMA outlines five key steps:

  1. Commit to Do the Work
  2. Start Shifting Group Norms by Learning About What You Don't Know
  3. Get a Handle on Your Data
  4. Develop a Shared, Clear, Compelling Vision and Goals
  5. Launch Targeted Improvement Efforts

3. Patient Access to Clinical Notes

Transparency in healthcare is crucial. Allowing patients to access their clinical notes can empower them with knowledge about their health condition and treatment plans and encourage them to ask questions and engage more actively in their care.

Physicians must understand and comply with the regulations while adhering to the best practices for sharing clinical notes with patients.

4. Guidance and Support for Health Improvement

When striving for improved patient outcomes, it's vital to place the patient in control of their healthcare journey. Practices can empower patients with the knowledge, skills, and confidence needed to actively participate in their healthcare through the adoption of health coaching. Collaborative engagement with patients in healthcare decisions can positively influence lifestyle choices and encourage meaningful behavior changes.

Here's how you can implement health coaching in your practice:

  1. Commit to Health Coaching
  2. Build the Health Coaching Model
  3. Recruit, Train, and Mentor the Coaches
  4. Start Coaching and Track Your Progress

5. Establish a Patient Experience Program

Growing competition within the healthcare industry has elevated the expectations of both patients and insurers. Today, individuals actively seek superior quality, more excellent value, and enhanced outcomes. Patient satisfaction has emerged as a pivotal metric, offering insights into how patients perceive their healthcare journey. Developing a patient experience program is not just about improving patient satisfaction; it's also a fulfilling endeavor for your practice that can transform how you deliver care.

Create a patient experience program by assessing patient satisfaction, defining your vision, involving key stakeholders, implementing your strategy, evaluating the impact of feedback, and continually improving while acknowledging achievements.

6. Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC)

Listening to patients and families can make a world of difference in providing care that truly centers around their needs. Forming a Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) is a practical way for healthcare systems and practices to involve patients and families in shaping and improving the healthcare experience.

Healthcare organizations are increasingly embracing PFACs to tap into the rich diversity of patient perspectives and the real-life experiences they bring. This collaborative approach goes a long way in making care more patient- and family-centered, aiming to boost patient and family engagement (PFE).

7. Ensure Medication Adherence

Medication adherence is pivotal in healthcare, directly influencing a patient's well-being and overall satisfaction. To enhance medication adherence, consider the following eight steps:

  • Establish Regular Adherence Check-Ins
  • Promote Open Conversations
  • Uncover Non-Adherence Reasons
  • Encourage and Appreciate Sharing
  • Personalized Adherence Solutions
  • Patient-Centered Treatment Plans
  • Preparation for Success

8. Address Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)

Social determinants of health, those economic, social, and environmental factors that influence an individual's well-being, are closely intertwined with the principles of person-centered care. Patient-centered care prioritizes each patient's unique needs and circumstances, recognizing that their health is not solely defined by medical conditions but also by their life context.

Overcoming barriers related to social determinants, such as financial challenges, transportation issues, or lack of insurance, is central to patient-centered care. Addressing SDOH ensures that every patient has equal access to healthcare and improves the overall patient outcome.

9. Listen and Empathize

Empathy is at the heart of patient-centered care. Providers can establish trust and rapport by actively listening to patients and acknowledging their feelings and concerns. This empathetic approach creates an open and non-judgmental environment for communication, fostering patient engagement, adherence to treatment plans, and ultimately improving healthcare outcomes.

Health professionals must adopt empathetic listening techniques to cultivate trust and enhance the patient experience.

10. Choosing Wisely

"Choosing Wisely" is a collaborative effort between the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation and Consumer Reports, which aims to foster valuable conversations between patients and healthcare providers. The Choosing Wisely lists offer both patients and physicians tangible evidence to evaluate the appropriateness of tests and treatments.

Healthcare providers can integrate these lists into their practice to ensure they recommend suitable healthcare interventions while improving their communication with patients. This approach ultimately leads to well-informed, patient-centered decisions where healthcare choices are grounded in shared decision-making.

11. Project ECHO®

Project ECHO, initially established at the University of New Mexico, acts as a bridge connecting primary care clinics with specialist teams in academic medical centers through virtual weekly TeleECHO clinic sessions. The objective is to create a community of practice, fostering learning and support by sharing knowledge to enhance treatment capacity. Incorporating Project ECHO into your workflow enhances patient treatment adherence and convenience and boosts clinicians' knowledge, proficiency, and overall job satisfaction.

12. Value-Based Care

Value-based care, a healthcare model centered on cost-effective, high-quality care, greatly enhances patient-centered care. By prioritizing patient outcomes and experiences, it shifts the healthcare focus from volume to value. Value-based care encourages shared decision-making, empowers patients, and coordinates care efficiently, making it a natural ally to patient-centered care principles.

Quality metrics and continuous improvement in value-based care enhance patient focus, while preventive care and feedback personalize healthcare.

13. SafeMed Model

Patients with complex health issues, including multiple chronic conditions, extensive medication regimes, and unaddressed social challenges, face heightened risks when transitioning from hospital to home care. The SafeMed care transitions model addresses these concerns through a rigorous approach involving thorough medication reconciliation and in-home assessments, primarily focused on high-risk, high-needs patients within primary care practices.

Building a SafeMed transition team reduces hospital and emergency department visits, ultimately improving outcomes for the specified patient group.

14. Integrate Behavioral Health Models

Integrating behavioral health models into patient-centered care offers a holistic approach that addresses both physical and mental well-being. This integration promotes open patient-provider communication, early intervention, and improved mental health outcomes. It empowers patients to actively engage in their healthcare decisions, fostering a sense of ownership in their care.

15. Optimize Panel Size

Optimizing patient panel sizes allows primary care providers to spend more time with each patient. Smaller panels enable better patient-provider relationships, improved communication, and more personalized care plans, ultimately leading to a better patient experience and outcomes.

AMA STEPS Forward® offers a rich array of interactive educational resources designed to empower you with practical, hands-on guidance for enhancing and elevating your healthcare practice. Embrace these tools to revolutionize your approach to patient-centered care, cultivating an environment defined by trust, empathy, and healthcare excellence.

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