How To Do Patient Centered Care

How To Do Patient Centered Care

As Clinicians, We Say We Deliver Patient-Centered Care... But, How Do We Know?
For at least two decades healthcare providers have frequently used the phrase patient-centered care to describe the type of care we provide. While as clinicians, we understood this to indicate that we "put the patient at the center" of what we do. In all honesty, most of us didn't know how to "put the patient in the center", except for giving the patient and family the best care and attention each one of us knew to give.

stethoscope with heart in-between for how to do patient centered care

As the healthcare industry began to turn its attention to wellness and prevention in the early 2000's, more emphasis was placed on making sure the patient was educated on the questions to ask their providers during appointments or during hospitalizations. Providers hoped this would make a big difference in improving patient-provider communication.

Evidence Based Outcomes

Some providers were uncertain of how to manage this change in focus and weren't convinced this would work. Fortunately, that debate ended with advocates of evidence-based medicine accepting that a good outcome must be defined in terms of what is meaningful and valuable to the individual patient (Guyatt, et al). 

So.. how do clinicians and practitioners identify what is meaningful and valuable to the patient? Some will say, "Ask the patient." or "Give the patient a check-list of specific questions to ask." But this approach alone hasn't yielded the results we hoped for. Why? Most patients aren't accustomed to asking or aren't comfortable with it. They're used to being asked the questions that primarily revolve around their medical diagnosis or chief complaint, such as:

• "What seems to be the problem, today?"
• "What can I do for you?"
• "How have you been?"
• "How can I help you?"

While these questions can be helpful initiating the encounter, there are specific conversational skills that result in more meaningful engagement. One that seeks to know the patient's perspective about:

1. His/her health condition
2. Medications prescribed
3. Treatments ordered
4. Diagnostic tests needed
5. Their health behaviors difficult to change

Patients have definite thoughts about their healthcare decisions and as providers, we must recognize this as the perfect opportunity to engage them in more meaningful and effective ways than we have in the past! Learn how to do patient centered care through the use of Evidence-based Health Coaching for Healthcare Providers taught by the National Society of Health Coaches!

1 Guyatt G, Montori V, Devereaux PJ, Schünemann H, Bhandari M. Patients at the center: in our practice, and in our use of language. ACP J Club. 2004;140(1):A11–A12.


Learn More:
Evidence Based Health Coaching 
Patient Centered Care
Clinician Empathy in Patient Care