Embracing Patient-Centred Care: Your Health, Your Decisions

Written by Elliot Dobie on 12 June 2024

The Evolution of Patient Care

Gone are the days when healthcare followed a strictly "authoritarian" approach, with professionals dictating the treatment path and patients expected to comply, no questions asked. The last two decades have witnessed a pivotal shift towards Patient-Centred Care — an approach that recognises you as an active participant in your healthcare journey. This evolution in care philosophy underscores the importance of your goals, preferences, and values in devising treatment plans. The shift is not just a matter of ethics; it's a proven pathway to enhanced patient satisfaction and better health outcomes (Rathert, Wyrwich & Boren, 2013).

What Does Patient-Centred Care Look Like?

According to the American Geriatrics Society Expert Panel on Person‐Centered Care (Brummel-Smith et al., 2016), the hallmark features of a patient-centred healthcare practice include:

  • Individualised, Goal-Oriented Care: Whether you aspire to run a marathon or wish for pain-free daily activities, your healthcare plan should be tailored to your personal goals.
  • Regular Review of Goals and Care Plans: Continuous monitoring and adaptation of your care plan ensure it remains aligned with your evolving goals.
  • Collaborative Care: You should feel like an equal partner among your healthcare providers, actively involved in all decisions.
  • A Primary Contact: Having a central figure, such as a physiotherapist, can streamline your healthcare experience, guiding you to specialised resources as needed.
  • Coordinated Healthcare: Effective communication among all your healthcare providers, with you at the heart of the dialogue, is crucial.
  • Open Communication and Education: Understanding your condition and the available treatment options empowers you to make informed decisions.
  • Feedback-Driven Improvement: Your feedback is instrumental in measuring success and making necessary adjustments to ensure your goals are met.

Red Flags in Patient-Centred Care

However, the journey isn't always smooth. Signs of inadequate patient-centred care may include:

  • One-Way Communication: Lack of engagement with your goals, lifestyle, and preferences.
  • Rigid Appointment Schedules: Inflexibility may overlook your unique healing timetable.
  • Lack of Goal Monitoring: Absence of progress tracking against your set objectives.
  • Absolutist Medical Advice: Statements that limit your options or exclude alternative treatments.
  • Limited Treatment Options: Presenting a single solution without considering your unique circumstances.

Making Informed Healthcare Choices

Navigating the healthcare landscape can be daunting, especially without a deep understanding of medical practices. Armed with the principles of patient-centred care, you're better equipped to question, evaluate, and, if necessary, seek alternatives to ensure your health journey aligns with your personal needs and aspirations.

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