The idea of the patient-centered medical home has seen a lot of discussion lately. Some practices are taking things a step further and engaging in patient centered co-design. This approach creates a better experience for the whole care team, but what does it entail? Let’s dive in and take a closer look.
What is the patient centered co-design?
Patient centered co-design is a way to identify both problems and solutions with the help of patients. Also, it improves the quality of care and the patient’s experience. This process involves a true partnership with patients focused on creating solutions to problems together. The goal is to utilize both the physician’s expertise and knowledge along with the patient’s experience and knowledge of themselves. Ultimately, patient centered co-design should create a better experience for the entire care team: patients, providers, and families included.
In order to successfully create a patient centered co-design, it’s important to come into the process without assumptions. Providers must enter the process with an open mind asking questions such as, “Where do we need to start?” and “What do we need to change?” While many providers are afraid that patients will ask for the moon, most patients and families have suggestions that aren’t outrageous. Another important part of this process is beginning with realistic expectations for both patients and providers. Look at what needs to be addressed and realistic ways to address those issues. From there, make it clear to patients that it’s possible that not every issue will be able to be solved exactly as they would like it to be.
Is this a shift for healthcare providers?
The simple answer is yes. Currently there are two things that providers don’t consistently do that could help with the patient experience. They are: matching the tone of the patient and their families and acknowledging what patients and family members have to say. These are simple actions that can make so much difference. First, it’s important for providers to gauge the patient’s tone and match it. If a patient seems cheerful, it’s best to match that cheerfulness. If a patient seems low energy, be quiet with them. Secondly, providers must acknowledge what a patient says, even what they’re saying non-verbally. Don’t ignore a patient’s feelings. Say things like, “You seem to be upset,” and work to understand why. If a patient is crying, say something like, “I see you’re crying. What can I do to help?”
The patient centered co-design encourages that the relationship between patient and provider shifts from “the doctor decides” to “let’s decide together.” Rather than the physicians getting together and deciding what the best way to treat a patient is, in patient centered co-design the patients are involved. Their input is valued. This is definitely a shift from the way healthcare providers have traditionally worked, but certainly a shift for the better.
Healthcare is most successful when both patients and providers are satisfied with their experience. Patient centered co-design is a great way to achieve this goal. It allows patients to be engaged and to feel valued in their own care plan. Also, it gives providers insight into how their patients feel they will be best treated. It’s certainly an adjustment to get started this way, but with open minds and the right motivation, this model can make a large, positive difference in healthcare.