5 Key Characteristics of Patient-Focused Healthcare Delivery


It is often stated by people in favor of a single payer healthcare system that our current system is broken. I disagree. Healthcare in this country is still among the best in the world. It is the payment systems and delivery methods that are really broken. We could fix both by embracing patient-focused healthcare.

Patient-focused healthcare is not the same as outcome-based healthcare. What was proposed as outcome-based healthcare more than a decade ago has a fatal flaw: it is still motivated by money. It is still motivated by the bottom line. Fee-for-service healthcare is the same deal. But patient-focused healthcare is different. If you are not sure how, it is in the name.

KindlyMD is a Utah healthcare provider with multiple clinical locations, specializing in primary care clinics. Their primary specialty is helping patients access plant-based medicines through the Utah Medical Card. They explain that genuine patient-focused healthcare is characterized by five key things:

1. Collaborative Decision Making

In a legitimate patient-focused scenario, healthcare providers and patients collaborate on decisions. Patients are actively involved in any and all discussions regarding their care. They have an active voice in determining treatments.

The key to this particular aspect is letting patients know that they can be active partners. Without that knowledge, so many assume they just need to sit quietly and let their doctors make all the decisions. Clinicians who truly believe in patient-focused healthcare don’t want to do that. They want to collaborate with patients.

2. A Team Approach

In addition to provider-patient collaboration, patient-focused healthcare takes a team approach toward bringing in other clinicians. In other words, primary care doctors do not make decisions in isolation. Caring for a particular patient involves an entire team.

In KindlyMD’s case, their clinics employ advanced practice nurses, licensed therapists, and medication management specialists. A full nursing staff and an army of administrative personnel complement the team. The entire team works together to produce the best possible outcome for every patient.

3. Individualized Treatment Plans

The patient-focused model dictates developing individualized treatment plans for each patient. Patient-focused treatment plans consider an extensive list of criteria including physical health, mental and emotional wellbeing, social influences, and even patient core values. Clinicians avoid the one-size-fits-all treatment approach at all costs.

4. Patient Education and Empowerment

Patients in a more traditional healthcare setting often walk away feeling like they do not have the knowledge to contribute to the decision-making process. Therefore, they leave all the decisions to their providers. Genuine patient-focused care takes the opposite approach. Patient-focused providers prioritize education and empowerment.

Providers want their patients to know and understand what is going on. They want patients to ask educated questions based on an expanding knowledge base. The more patients learn, the more engaged they are.

5. Rock Solid Communication

Wrapping everything up and keeping it together is rock solid communication. Communication is a two-way street in patient-focused healthcare. Clinicians demonstrate attentiveness to their patients; they speak to patients in clear, plain language.

Patients reciprocate by not holding anything back. They answer questions honestly and thoroughly; they tell clinicians exactly what they think and how they feel. Most importantly, both clinician and patient always communicate respectfully. When each one shows the proper respect, the other returns it.

Patient-focused healthcare delivery is slowly gaining traction in the U.S. It is not the norm, but perhaps it will be at some point in the future. I certainly hope so. I have experienced patient-focused healthcare myself. I like it a lot more than fee-for-service and outcome-based delivery. In fact, I actually enjoy seeing my doctor these days.

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