What is patient-focused care?

Technology can help primary care physicians manage their patients’ medical data, entering information during the visit and reviewing the patient’s record after the visit. Physicians also need to focus on their patients, though, to provide quality patient-focused care. Patients want their primary care physician to engage with them during the visit, answering their questions and focusing on their needs.

What is patient-focused care? A research study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health states that “Patient-focused care includes four broad areas of intervention: communication with patients, partnerships, health promotion, and physical care (medications and treatments).”

The research study identifies the “three Cs” of patient-focused care, as “communication, continuity of care, and concordance (finding common ground).” Communication is critical to patient-focused care. Lack of focused, clear communication can create misunderstandings or misinterpretation. Patients who feel their physician is not taking the time to provide them with detailed information or to listen to their concerns may become discouraged.

When patients are engaged by the primary care physician, however, they become more involved in their own healthcare. They tend to follow instructions more closely and collaborate with the physician on critical decisions that impact their plan of care. The patient’s family or caregivers may also become more actively involved in the patient’s well-being.

For the physician, as the research study points out, there are benefits resulting from patient-focused care “in terms of improved outcomes for their patients, higher patient retention, and potentially a reduced risk of litigation.” In addition, patient-focused care “has been shown to improve physicians’ performance, patient satisfaction, and health outcomes without requiring additional investment in time or resources.”

Patient-focused care may also be a valuable approach for the primary care physician treating “difficult” patients. Those patients who do not understand their diagnosis or treatment plan or who simply do not want to follow the prescribed plan may become more actively involved in decisions regarding their health if their primary care physician practices patient-focused care.