Patient-centered care can cut unnecessary use, costs

Hospitals trying to cut costs may find that one solution is right in front of them--patients. That's because research from UC Davis Health System has found that using patient-centered care leads to decreased utilization of medical services and lower costs, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Patient-centered care involves physicians having more personalized discussions about a patient's family and social history, nutrition and exercise, the patient's beliefs about his or her own health, and counseling on the patient's emotions or interpersonal relations.

"Patient-centered care has been identified by the Institute of Medicine as one of the key actions for improving our nation's health," said Klea Bertakis, principal investigator of the study and professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Family and Community Medicine. "Our study shows that including patients in more of the treatment and care-planning discussion is not only the right thing to do, it is also cost-effective."

In fact, the study found that the number of specialty-care visits, hospitalizations and diagnostic testing were significantly reduced, in addition to drops in total healthcare charges and specialty-care charges, among patients who received patient-centered care.

The study analyzed a continuous year of care, rather than a single patient visit.

So as hospitals struggle to control costs without comprising the quality care, such findings could compel institutions to adopt a more patient-centered and interpersonal approach to patient visits.

For more:
- here's the study
- check out the UC Davis statement