The statement, “Nothing about me without me,” has become something of a mantra from the patient safety movement. It suggests that patients must be integrally involved in the systems and organizations we are striving to improve. That same thinking must be integrated in patient centered care as well. If we don’t involve patients in the design of care, we’ll be missing huge opportunities. But involving patients in the design of care is not limited to major systems, building design, and process improvements. It starts with a conversation centered on one question, “What’s most important to you about your care?”
That one question provides the impetus for delivering patient centered care on a personal level. Whether at the bedside or in the exam room, learning what matters most to the individual is the start of patient centeredness. Learning what is most important to the individual engages the patient as an active member of the care team and begins the conversation.
In our Nurse/Patient partnership curriculum©, we stress the importance of asking this question to help inform the care team and engage the patient. Rather than strictly explaining the care plan and what will be done “to” the patient, it is vital to orchestrate a plan for what will be done “with” the patient. When the patient and family see that their desires are not just heard but placed on the whiteboard and at the center of the plan, they feel like partners rather than recipients.
It’s not always the big things that we do in orchestrating more patient-centered care. It’s a mindset that starts with a simple question.