Health Care Organizations Focus on Improving Patient Communication during 4th Annual Patient-Centered Care Awareness Month

Derby, Conn., September 17, 2010-Patient-Centered Care Awareness Month began four years ago in an effort to heighten awareness of patient-centered care among patients, families, caregivers, media, elected officials and the general public. Now with the passage of sweeping health care reform and CMS publicly reporting hospitals' performance on patient experience via HCAHPS, the term "patient-centered" is firmly planted in the health care lexicon and is being used to describe everything from Congressional bills to MRI equipment. The term patient-centered was coined by Planetree more than 30 years ago to describe health care delivery around the needs of the patient; partnering with patients and families, encouraging involvement and personalizing care. 

Although the meaning of the words may be interpreted beyond the conventional definition of patient centeredness, Planetree and other like-minded organizations will commemorate Patient-Centered Care Awareness Month as part of its ongoing effort to focus on its true meaning and lead the industry as it moves from defining to "doing." The month-long event also gives organizations an opportunity to showcase their patient-centered initiatives and how they encourage patients to become participants in their care.

Planetree offers a variety of resources focused on how to operationalize patient and resident-centered approaches to care delivery. The Planetree Web site,, features a Patient-Centered Care Awareness Month electronic toolkit that may be downloaded for free. This year the month's theme is "Transformation through Communication," and resources are available in the toolkit outlining practical strategies to improve patient and family communication. Planetree also offers a free Patient-Centered Care Improvement Guide available at, and this October a new Long-Term Care Improvement Guide will be published and made available on the Planetree Web site. Both of these guides were generously funded by Picker Institute, an international nonprofit organization that supports research in the field of patient-centered care.

"Effective communication is at the core of providing patient-centered care. During Patient-Centered Care Awareness Month, we challenge professional caregivers to encourage dialogue with patients and families and to humanize and personalize even the most routine interactions.

Doing so not only enhances the patient experience but ultimately the quality of care. Patients who understand their caregivers are more likely to understand treatment options and adhere to follow-up instructions," said Planetree President Susan B. Frampton, Ph.D. 

Several activities are planned to increase awareness about patient-centered approaches to care, empower patients and inspire health care organizations to adopt and further advance the practice. Highlights of the month's activities include: 

  • The 2010 Planetree Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, October 5th-8th, including recognition of individual health care professionals for their personal embodiment of the values of patient-centered care at the annual Spirit of Planetree Awards ceremony.
  • Four new Planetree Designated© sites will also be honored during the Spirit of Planetree ceremony. The Planetree Designation Program recognizes hospitals and continuing care communities around the world that have implemented patient-/resident-centered care in a comprehensive manner. The designation program provides a practical, operational framework for evaluating the organizational systems and processes necessary to sustain a patient-/resident-centered culture.
  • The Long-Term Care Leadership Summit, in Denver, Colorado, October 5th.
  • Governors from across the U.S. are commemorating the event by signing proclamations recognizing Patient-Centered Care Awareness Month in their states.
  • Hospitals nationwide are displaying proclamations to publicly declare their commitment to the values of patient-centered care and hosting events for patients, families and caregivers.  

Several organizations, including Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Picker Institute, Institute for Family and Patient-Centered Care and the Society for Healthcare Consumer Advocacy are participating in order to increase awareness about their initiatives focusing on patient experience and to encourage their members and other organizations to do the same. Planetree health care organizations across the U.S., the Netherlands, Québec, along with Kikko-kai Tane Hospital in Japan and Albert Einstein Hospital in Brazil are celebrating the month as well. 

About Planetree:

Founded in 1978 by a San Francisco patient who endured a traumatic hospitalization, Planetree has been at the forefront of the effort to personalize, humanize and demystify the health care system for three decades. Today, the Planetree membership network is a global community of acute care hospitals, continuing care facilities, and outpatient clinics, each at various phases of the journey to transform their health care by considering every aspect of the health care experience from the perspective of their patients, and reconnecting staff to their passion for caring for others. A complete list of Planetree hospitals is available at


Danielle Swift

Director of Communications and Public Relations