Putting People at the Heart of Healthcare

Putting People at the Heart of Healthcare

Putting people at the center of healthcare may seem intuitive, but it’s an approach that has not been widely practiced in the medical community. Instead, we clinicians often prioritize and provide healthcare based on the needs of our systems, staff, and providers. While cultural change movements and emerging perspectives on chronic care management have guided medicine toward approaches like person-centered care to promote well-being, the approach has lacked a cohesive definition until now. A review of research published between 1990 and 2014 identified more than 15 distinct descriptions of person-centered care for older adults.   A Better Definition An interprofessional panel of eldercare experts convened by the American Geriatrics Society, in collaboration with the Keck School of Medicine and Davis School of Gerontology of the University of Southern California (USC) and with support from the SCAN Foundation, has released findings from a project to better define “person-centered care” and identify its key elements. As described across four articles published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, person-centered care involves putting an individual’s values and preferences at the heart of decision-making, achieving success by engaging in a collaborative and communicative approach to address patients’ goals and involve them (and those close to them) to the extent they desire. A person-centered approach to caring for older adults with chronic complex illnesses begins by gathering specific information about preferences in light of health circumstances, with input from family members and other caregivers. When added to a comprehensive health and functional assessment, this information can be used to help a patients shape and articulate their goals. To arrive at its definition, the...