Transition to patient-centered care takes patient education, greater financial incentive

Although the healthcare industry sees patient-centered care as the answer to reduce care costs and improve care quality, such a dramatic change in healthcare delivery can be a hard sell among patients, according to the Associated Press.

For example, a survey by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research earlier this year found that among 1,735 Americans 40 and older, the majority of respondents who gave or received care without a personal healthcare manager--a single point of contact who can coordinate all aspects of care--doubted their care would improve with the addition of one, despite 75 percent of respondents with a care manager who said the position significantly improved their care.

Increased financial incentives are necessary to fully transform healthcare in a patient-centered direction, Marshall Chin, M.D., a professor of medicine and healthcare ethics at the University of Chicago, told the AP. "The more that we say that patient-centered care is something we value and that it would be rewarded, the faster that it would happen," he said.

The Department of Health and Human Services has taken steps to provide incentives for such a transition, announcing in January that it will tie 30 percent of all fee-for-service payments to quality initiatives through alternative payment models by 2016. But advocacy groups such as the American Health Care Association indicate the government's plans don't do nearly enough.

Meaningful implementation requires a looser schedule, more implementation time and revised cost estimates, according to the Association, particularly when getting patients to buy into the concept can be such a challenge.  The current proposals don't seem to acknowledge that high-quality care carries a price tag, according to John Vrba, CEO of Westmont, Illinois' Burgess Square Health Care & Rehabilitation Center, a provider that implements various patient-centered measures, such as giving some residents coffee as soon as they wake up or giving residents trips into downtown Chicago.

Various other providers are developing their own unique strategies for patient-centered care as well; for example, at Roanoke, Virginia's Carilion Clinic, a team-based, physician-led approach helps patients transition from primary care to patient-centered medical homes, FierceHealthcare previously reported, which has cut emergency department use 34 percent.

To learn more:
- read the article
- check out the survey findings