Patient-centered care: A guide for practitioners


If you work in the healthcare, therapy or wider care sector, it’s likely that you’ve heard the term “patient-centered” spring up in recent years. The term has become popular for a whole host of good reasons; it refers to the idea that the individual patient’s needs are, or should be, at the heart of care and care decisions. But what is its history, and how can it be put into practice for the benefit of the community of patients you serve? This blog post will discuss this. 

The history and meaning of patient-centered ideas

For a long time, patient-centered care was not at the core of medicine. The previous model that was dominant, especially in Western countries like the US, was that the doctor was the active expert and the patient was the passive consumer. This led to situations in which some patients were mistreated or at least not given the information they needed to actively understand what was happening to them. 

But that’s now changed. Patient-centered care is also becoming part of the training regime for people who are entering professions, like nursing, and online nursing study programs at institutions, like the University of Indianapolis, can help a learner pick up patient-centered care ideas.

In practice

But, as a practitioner, there’s no use in knowing what the history and meaning of patient-centered care is if you can’t put it into practice in real life. On the contrary, it’s essential to have a guide to making it work for your patients. One way to do it is to involve the patient in their care. There are certain practical ways that you can do this. For example, when medication is prescribed, the benefits of that medication can be explained in a clear way, and the patient can be given the choice of whether or not to accept it.

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Of course, it’s not always possible to do this in a straightforward way. The patient may not be in a position at that time to give consent, for example, which shows why patient-centered care is a life-cycle practice rather than something a clinician should do at one point in time. Ideally, patient-centered care will have been in place across the caring relationship, and the patient will have had a chance to discuss with their clinician what their medical wishes might be in the event of such a moment coming to pass. 

It’s worth thinking about patient care as a method of working together, rather than as a clinician or practitioner working in a way that looks down on the patient. The benefits of this can be enormous. First off, for the clinician, it often allows for a more productive working relationship where the patient is less likely to engage in something acrimonious or confrontational with the doctor. But, for the patient, meanwhile, it allows for a broader range of choice and – as evidence shows – improved health outcomes

In sum, patient-centered care is an appropriate and modern way to conceptualize the world of caring for patients in a healthcare setting. It involves treating the patient as the individual that they are and ensuring that they are involved in the decisions that affect their health and their lives – and, clearly, it’s something that benefits both practitioner and patient. 


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