Hospital Impact: New guide helps providers deliver person-centered care

 “Patient-centered care” is one of the most commonly expressed mantras in healthcare today. But it is one thing to talk the patient-centered talk, and quite another to walk the walk. First, effective healthcare focuses on the needs of a person before he or she becomes a patient. Delivering genuine person-centered care requires rethinking the entire continuum of consumer and patient engagement, from the design of healthcare products that best serve consumers to healthcare service lines that best care for patients at their time of need.

But it also raises many questions: What does person-centered care look like? How do you get there? How do you know when you have arrived? What do you do to ensure your organization remains person-centered over time?

There are no universally accepted answers. The Health Care Transformation Task Force, a consortium of patients, payers, providers and purchasers working to accelerate the pace of U.S. healthcare delivery system transformation, is working to close the gap and inspire greater focus on and understanding about person-centered care with a new multi-stakeholder, consensus-based framework (.pdf), “Addressing Consumer Priorities in Value-Based Care: Guiding Principles and Key Questions.”

The framework is the result of several months of hard-won consensus among patients and providers, as well as payers and purchasers. We created a framework, rather than a set of step-by-step instructions, because there is no one-size fits all answer given the diversity of the U.S. healthcare system and the unique environment and markets served by each healthcare organization and its stakeholders.

The framework is organized around six broad principles and a set accompanying questions that systems can use to foster dialog and take action on defining what it means to be person-centered:

  1. Principle: Include patients/consumers as partners in decision-making at all levels of care. For example, are patients/consumers included as integral partners in all aspects of healthcare decision-making at every level, from system-level reform design to point-of-care decisions?
  2. Principle: Deliver person-centered care. For example, are patients/consumers and those who support them at the center of the care team?
  3. Principle: Design alternative payment models that benefit consumers. For example, do APMs achieve cost-savings only through improvements in health and healthcare and ensure beneficiary rights and protections?
  4. Principle: Drive continuous quality improvement. For example, do the healthcare transformation policies and practices drive continuous quality improvement?
  5. Principle: Accelerate use of person-centered health information technology. For example, do alternative payment and care delivery models accelerate the effective use of person-centered health information technology?
  6. Principle: Promote health equity for all. For example, does the healthcare delivery system and payment reform model promote health equity and seek to reduce disparities in access to care and in health outcomes for all?

The framework reflects the consensus of the Task Force’s 43 member organizations, which includes representation from six of the nation’s top 15 health systems and four of the top 25 health insurers, as well as leading national organizations representing employers, patients and their families, and the policy community. The framework itself is the result of the same collaborative approach we urge organizations to take.

Our Advisory Group for Consumer Priorities includes representatives from the National Partnership for Women & Families, Community Catalyst, the National Health Law Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Trinity Health, Ascension Health and New Mexico Health Connections. Additional input was provided by representatives from the Institute for Innovation, Press Ganey Associates, American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network and Medicare Rights Center.

Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, stresses the importance of the collaborative approach: “This consensus framework can help health systems ensure that consumer priorities remain front and center during all phases of the transformation to a value-based care system. Value-based systems must deliver the person-centered care that people need and want--care that people will embrace and engage in. The only way to accomplish that is to ensure that consumers and patients are genuine partners in design, implementation and governance.” 

Put another way, healthcare organizations seeking truly person-center care should heed the age-old proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”