X Close

Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health Blog



Patient-Centred Care

By Nathan Davies, on 23 June 2016

In this post Kingshuk Pal talks about patinet-centred care and what does it mean?

Everyone agrees that patient-centred care is a good thing. But what exactly does that mean? And why should we bother?

There are many definitions of patient-centred care. The simplest involves “understanding the patient as a unique human being”. More technical definitions involve lists of interconnecting components like: (1) exploring both the disease and the illness experience; (2) understanding the whole person; (3) finding common ground regarding management; (4) incorporating prevention and health promotion; (5) enhancing the doctor–patient relationship; (6) ‘being realistic’ about personal limitations and issues such as the availability of time and resources.

But true patient-centred care is also professional-centred care. It recognises that health professionals are not automated healthcare dispensers mechanically processing each complaint in robotic monotony. Healthcare professionals are unique human beings too. The doctor is a drug. Healing comes from connections as much as from prescriptions.

We are constantly driven to become more efficient. To do more in less time. But as we get busier and more productive, we give our patients less attention; we give them less of ourselves. We connect with them less.

What can we gain by challenging the paradigms of efficiently delivered, protocol-driven, evidence-based standardised care? What happens when we treat patients as people and give them our attention rather than a prescription?

This is one example based on a true story published in the Lancet last week: