What is patient-focused care?

The second listed goal in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Strategy is “Strengthen persons and their families as partners in their care.” The strategic result for this goal is that “Persons and families are engaged as informed, empowered partners in care.” Further the Strategy cites the Institute of Medicine’s explanation of patient-centered care as being “respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”

For independent primary care physicians, it may seem obvious that they should be focused on patient care. That is, after all, what they are tasked to do and what they deem to be their calling, to focus on their patients’ healthcare. Patient-focused care, however, takes a slightly different approach to the independent primary care practice than may have been seen in traditional practices.

The CMS Quality Strategy explains that, according to the National Quality Forum, patient-centered care is focused on “collaborative partnerships among individuals, their defined family, and providers of care. It supports health and well-being by being consistent with, respectful of, and responsive to an individual’s priorities, goals, needs, and values.”

Patient engagement is a crucial element in patient-focused care. Involving the patient and the patient’s family in crucial decisions can empower the patient to be more vigilant in regard to medications and follow-up visits. Patients who are encouraged to communicate with the primary care physician during and after the visit tend to be more vested and more active in their own healthcare plan, benefiting the patient and the provider.

In patient-focused care, the patient is given more control over care decisions. The primary care physician does not simply give the patient a diagnosis and instructions for a care plan. Rather, the diagnosis is thoroughly discussed with the patient and the patient’s family, where appropriate. Being informed about all aspects of the diagnosis and the treatment plan, and having a part in the decision-making around that plan, the patient is able to be more responsible and more responsive.