How Patient-Centered is Your Care?

November 24, 2015 - 4 minutes read

Stronger relationships can improve outcomes and cost

Until recently, the idea of improving patient care while lowering cost sounded like a paradox. But as more experts studied the concept and outcomes of patient-centered care, that thinking and conversation has changed. Studies show that physicians who practice patient-centered care can build better patient relationships, which can drive better clinical outcomes; fewer readmissions; and lower testing and prescription costs.

Now doctors and other care providers are becoming increasingly accountable for patient experiences through Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) surveys, which are designed to capture opinions on healthcare experiences most important to consumers and patients. The results are affecting reimbursement programs.

How patient-centered is your practice or facility?


  • Do you ask patients what they believe is good care – and really listen to what they have to say? Many practices and hospitals send surveys, but too few review the feedback at high leadership levels to drive real change.



  • Do you make patient-centered care a deliberate and continuous focus? It takes day-in, day-out attention to ensure patient-centered care is top-of-mind. This isn’t something that can be launched and left alone. Every provider representing you – whether an employee or a locum tenens – needs continuous reinforcement of how important this mindset is to your facility. Otherwise words won’t translate into meaningful outcomes.


  1. Do you focus on the little details that make a huge difference to patients? Many facilities say they’re patient-centered. But attention on certain details separates the ones who talk about it from those who truly practice it.
    1. Is your practice team respectful of patients’ busy time? Do you answer and return calls quickly; make the appointment process easy and keep your waiting areas comfortable and inviting?
    2. Does your hospital team take time to orient patients to their rooms: how to order meals; work remotes; use call buttons? Do doctors and nurses work together to minimize or eliminate nighttime blood draws, allowing sick patients to get much needed sleep?
    3. Do you communicate details, delays or other care issues immediately? There’s no worse feeling than radio silence from doctors and nurses as a patient anxiously waits for diagnoses, test results or discharge plans.
  2. Do you convey your patient-centered culture to your Locum Tenens agency? A locum tenens provider may only be with you for a few weeks or months, but your patients won’t know that. To them, these providers are your brand reputation. Make sure your agency partner understands your culture and screens candidates carefully. In today’s social media world, one or two negative patient experiences can erode years of goodwill.

Author James Rickert sums it up well in his article, Patient-Centered Care: What It Means and How to Get There:
“Providers often believe that we know everything about our patients and their care, but we are simply unable to accurately assess our patients’ perceptions of their care–what is important to them, how well we are delivering care, what factors in our patient care improve outcomes. We need to attempt to move from “what’s the matter” with our patients to “what matters” to our patients.”

Patient-Centered Care: What It Means And How To Get There, James Rickert, January 12, 2012

Five Steps to improve the patient experience; November 11, 2015, Physician’s Practice, Judy Capko

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; CAHPS website