Is patient-centricity a real thing? At the point of care, when the patient and their care team come together, what does patient-centricity really mean?
The Term (And The Problem)
If you think about organizational design, the corporation’s divisions could be positioned around customer needs. Although it sounds considerate, even Starbucks doesn’t do it, and they’re kind of known for loyal customers, so it’s probably an organizational reach goal, if anything.
Health care and life-science service providers may say that since the patient receives their service, patient-centricity means providing that service in the most considerate and comprehensive way possible. “Putting the patient at the center” says that patient needs are considered above all else.
But is this a realistic strategy? There are definitely other considerations in the doctor’s office, like it or not, and some choices will recognize other priorities, such as responsible safety protocols and efficiencies that enable better management of population health. We don’t want those chosen by popular vote, right?
Don’t get me wrong, patients today need all the help they can get to manage their health care. Premiums, coupons, deductibles, coverage, and exchanges can leave even the most determined patient confused and apprehensive when faced with an unexpected diagnosis or difficult treatment plan.
But the point of care is a moment of truth for more than just the patient. The physician is dealing with packed schedules, challenging electronic medical record systems, and “less-than-engaged” patients. While the payer is faced with a fixed set of funds to allocate in the best manner to deliver the highest quality care and value for their covered lives. These needs matter, too.
So we should be managing and optimizing the entire experience, when the patient, doctor, care team, and even insurance company come together at the point of care.
Where We’re Going
The best point of care experiences reflect this thoughtfulness. They exhibit the careful planning that’s required to deftly juggle a host of important factors, like:
Some great examples of aspects of healthcare experience planning include:
This kind of care gives the all players the opportunity to reconnect and check in on their progress together. Now, the health care provider can make a more positive impact on their patient’s health. The payer can help motivate and inspire the provider and patient to work together in ways that increase the quality of care.
In the end, yes, patients benefit. But if you only asked them what they wanted, you’d never even think to hook grandma up to one of these Virtual Reality things.
And that might be the point.
I’m not saying to throw out the concept of patient centricity. But it’s only a part of the entire experience to be defined, planned, and managed. Point of care can be part of an overarching strategy that respects the emotional realities and context of everyone involved in the experience.
The doctor’s office is a critically important inflection moment. In many cases it might be the only place where patients are actually focused on and thinking about their health. But there are many characters in the story – each with their own motivations, needs, and destiny.
To serve only the patient at this moment doesn’t do it justice. This is not the moment to do only as asked. It’s a moment to differentiate – to attempt and achieve lofty goals, and to build together the kind of experience that benefits all the stakeholders participating at the point of care.