It seems everyone is talking about their commitment to patient-centered care. We put in place so many processes and systems to create efficiencies for the people delivering the care rather than those receiving the care. We stand our when we do patient centered things, because we have created so many systems. At least until our competition catches up. And they will catch up.
For Example – Meals
Think about it. Scheduled meals have nothing to do with the patient’s hunger cycle. The schedule has everything to do with the efficiency of preparing and delivering food to a large number of people. When the physician has time, they do rounds. when the patient feels ready to engage in conversation and the care plan, rounds are not done. Yet we may look at a tray of uneaten food and assume the patient isn’t feeling well because he hasn’t eaten when in fact he prefers to be awake for a few hours before eating breakfast. We think a patient is not engaged when they don’t ask questions or are not conversational during rounds. But the truth is that the patient was sleeping just before the doctor entered and needs time to wake up before she can think clearly.
Of course many hospitals have shifted to room service in order to meet the patients’ dietary needs with a more individualized approach. We have a long way to go to adopt the mindset to be truly patient centered in other areas. What if the patient dictated when she’d like the doctor to make rounds to discuss the care plan? Or if the patient could call the care team together when he had questions that involved multiple disciplines? What if the patient could order a post discharge follow up home visit with the nurse, doctor and pharmacist?
Be Patient Centered
Patient centered requires that we know what they want and we deliver it. It starts with a conversation and one that may not be as complex as the hypothetical situations I mentioned above. The best way that I know to start the shift to becoming more patient centered is by simply asking, “What can we do for you to make your care the best it can be?” It may not solve everything, but it’s a start.