Improving patient outcomes with patient-centered care
There’s a concept in healthcare that puts the patient at the center of the equation. It partners the patient with the provider, not only in the exam room, but on a more personal level — enabling them to work in tandem to achieve the best possible outcomes. What is patient-centered care, and how can your practice implement this approach? Read on to find out.
What is patient-centered care?
Definition of patient-centered care
Patient-centered care is a care model that uses patients’ input and involvement to determine treatment and care. Patient-centered care means providers foster transparent communication with patients and consult them to ensure that treatment aligns with their needs and goals.
Your care team — comprised of physicians, nurses, and other practice staff — demonstrates a commitment to respecting patient preferences and providing the communication and support patients need. Patient-centered care also promotes a care environment that encourages patients’ family members to participate in decisions.
Principles of patient-centered care
Patient-centered care is founded on eight core principles developed from Harvard Medical School research. The Picker Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to patient-centered care, describes the principles as follows:
- Fast access to reliable healthcare advice
- Effective treatment delivered by trusted professionals
- Continuity of care and smooth transitions
- Involvement and support for family and (others)
- Clear information, communication, and support for self-care
- Involvement in decisions and respect for preferences
- Emotional support, empathy, and respect
- Attention to physical and environmental needs
These principles reflect the intention of patient-centered care to include patients in all aspects of their treatment plan, rather than the traditional approach of making care decisions with minimal patient input.
Increasing patient engagement and patient satisfaction through patient-centered care
Why is patient-centered care important? It aligns with the new trend of healthcare consumerism, with patients taking a more active role in determining their care options. As this trend continues, practices must offer tools and services to help patients find answers, estimate expenses, and keep track of information.
For example, price transparency gives patients the information they need to make healthcare decisions. With the average annual cost for a family of four reaching $28,386 in 2019, according to the Milliman Medical Index, Americans struggle to keep up with the expense of healthcare. Your practice can assist patients by providing the convenient payment experience they seek.
Patients’ payment preferences influence their healthcare decisions. 61% would consider switching providers for a better payment experience, and 88% want to know their payment responsibility upfront, according to Instamed’s Trends in Healthcare Payments Ninth Annual Report.
Patients expect online access to a practice. A patient portal allows them to review their records and results, request appointments and prescriptions, securely message providers, pay medical bills online, and even get an estimate of the cost of their care. By offering patients tools to make their lives easier, you’ll see an uptick in patient satisfaction that could lead to more positive reviews online, too.
It may seem most online reviews are negative, but a 2019 Software Advice study found the opposite to be true. Of respondents who had written an online review of a practice, 72% said they left a “very” or “somewhat” positive review, while only 12% left a “somewhat” or “very” negative review.
If you do receive a negative review, consult this blog for tips on how to respond.
Making a difference in patient outcomes with patient-centered care
Modern patients are savvy consumers with access to more options and education than ever before. As they take control of their care and change where and how they choose to receive it, it’s up to practices to adapt to these changing expectations.
If you choose to get started with patient-centered care at your practice, you can implement corresponding strategies to complement your patient-centered care efforts. For example, a chronic care management (CCM) strategy can help you achieve patient-centered care at your practice by empowering providers to better treat patients managing multiple chronic conditions.
Created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), CCM aims to ensure frequent primary care for Medicare patients who have been diagnosed with multiple conditions. This service helps patients decrease the number of hospital admissions due to chronic conditions and improve their quality of life by reducing their need for medications. For practices, participation in CCM can generate additional revenue.
Partnering with a care coordination service can enable your practice to succeed in value-based care, as providers counsel patients on exercise, nutrition, and other ways to manage chronic conditions. Your CCM strategy can help you meet your goals for patient-centered care, providing a channel to engage patients between visits and coach them individually about making healthy decisions.
Additionally, you can pair a patient-centered care model with data from a population health solution to identify segments of your patient population most in need and gain insights to improve outcomes and close gaps in care. Population health management strategies emphasize adherence to care plans and follow-up visits, as well as a team-based approach, which fit well with patient-centered care goals.
What is patient-centered medical home recognition?
Practices that embrace patient-centered care may opt to pursue patient-centered medical home (PCMH) recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This recognition can bolster the reputation of the practice and can hold providers and staff to a higher standard of care.
Practices may choose to pursue PCMH recognition to improve the patient experience, increase patient access to care, align with value-based care initiatives, or for other reasons.
PCMH recognition also offers reimbursement benefits. For practices and providers, becoming a PCMH can lead to increased revenue and additional reimbursement opportunities.
According to the NCQA, PCMH practices can participate in incentive programs from federal, state, and commercial payers. Providers could also receive higher reimbursements from more than 100 payers and organizations.
“Working with Greenway Revenue Services actually makes ours a better practice in terms of more patient involvement. We’re not constantly putting out fires around all of this mundane work. We’re able to pool our personnel resources to serving patients in a timelier manner, getting them authorizations, prescriptions and referrals, or answering their questions.”Jaye Stahl, Practice Manager, Foot & Ankle Physicians
PCMH recognition leads to quality improvement
Achieving PCMH recognition requires providers to develop proactive care processes to ensure they’re aware of and caring for a patient’s complete health, not just the specific issue that brings them to the office.
Implementing a patient-centered care model can lead to long-term quality improvement. But in the short term, it can take time and adjustment of your priorities. For Florida podiatry practice Foot & Ankle Physicians, focusing on patient care meant transferring billing responsibilities to a medical billing partner — and getting more time back to serve patients and improve the patient experience.
If you’re considering transitioning to patient-centered care or applying for PCMH recognition, now’s the time to ensure you have the right solutions to set you up for success.
To learn more about our EHR, patient engagement, practice analytics, and medical billing solutions, give us a call. We’d love to chat about solutions to support your patient-centered care strategy.