Healthcare organizations have traditionally delivered care focused on the needs and convenience of the organization—not the patient. But a new paradigm, based on a more consumerist approach is sweeping healthcare as it has swept other industries.
Consumers who are no longer satisfied with the inefficiencies and paternalistic nature of health care are driving this paradigm shift. the healthcare environment is changing rapidly with the ability to receive other services and goods in a way that anticipates and delivers on their needs. Patients feel a large gap between the way they receive healthcare and the way they want to receive care. The forces that drive this disconnect and dissatisfaction with health care delivery are numerous. With the advent and infusion of new technologies, we are seeing the global democratization of information, access, and significant power shifts that are creating a more demanding consumer.
Just as we have seen the flattening of the world because of the infusion of technology, we are now seeing a new flattening in health care, turbocharged by the power of the patient. We are seeing a new playing field in which the rules of the game are being defined by patients whose power and influence are placing new pressures on healthcare organizations.
The first new normal: Patients at the center
This dynamic is creating a new normal. Many healthcare organizations are not keeping pace with changing patient demands and dynamics and find themselves behind in meeting patient expectations. There is a need to focus on redefining patient relationships and transforming the professional and organizational culture towards a model that puts the patient at the core of healthcare delivery.
With the changing dynamics in healthcare, patients are voicing new demands. Patients are in most cases like any other consumer because they are. Patients as consumers want, and some regulatory bodies mandate, choice, timeliness and personalization. Just as consumers can choose their airline seats in a moment, patients can also now select their providers within insurance coverage guidelines. ZocDoc, for example, is an online booking system where patients can choose the doctor and book their appointments at the patient’s convenience and choice.
Patients want and need healthcare providers to know who they are. Consumer-driven programs from Amazon.com and JetBlue can remember preferences and anticipate customers’ needs and wants. In healthcare, patients expect that their needs will be remembered; information stored in healthcare records will be available to their healthcare team so that a patient doesn’t have to answer the same questions over and over again. None of this negates of course the role that the patient-physician relationship. This is paramount to a patients need for personalization and that their physician takes the time to know and connect to the patient.
To meet these new demands, healthcare organizations must fundamentally reorganize themselves from patriarchal, non-flexible, and non-responsive models of care delivery to patient-focused ones.
What is a Patient-Centric healthcare delivery culture?
Patient-centric culture is an architectural configuration of values, tasks, functions, policies, and practices that puts the patient at the core.
It is the foundational platform on which strategy, structure, processes, technology, and people function to create an organization that focuses on patients in their end-to-end journey. Patient centricity is also a mindset that is infused throughout the organization, from the Board Members to the housekeeper. Patient centricity is less about implementing a vision and more about building a cadence of energy that focuses on the patient’s journey through illness and wellness.
The core of the patient-centric approach is defining everything the healthcare organization is doing in terms of their client, the patient. This means using insights and data from and about patients to define the care delivery processes. This data now has to be understood in a rich, contextual way.
How to place the patient at the center
An initial step in the process of becoming a patient-centered organization is to assess your current values, policies, and practices as they relate to putting the patient first. Enhancing the patient experience by delivering patient-centered care is on the agenda of virtually every hospital today. While hospitals’ performance on national patient experience surveys gains greater public attention and is increasingly tied to financial rewards, the pathway for improvement is far from clear.
The LifeCare Movement
LifeCare Health Partners, headquartered in Plano, Texas, operates 23 hospitals in nine states. All hospitals in the LifeCare Family are accredited by the Joint Commission and Medicare certified. Each hospital in the LifeCare Family of Hospitals proves a unique healing environment dedicated to the treatment of medically complex patients. Our hospital is located at 400 E Marshall in West Chester, PA.
All of us in the network embrace a common core set of values. Our values encompass who we are as an organization and are a guide to how we operate with one another and the patients we care for. They also reflect “how we show up” and what is important to us as a company.
MEET LINDA B
… a 69-year-old female who had been hospitalized for 3 weeks at a local hospital, where she developed complications from ulcerative colitis and diverticulitis with possible megacolon. During a sigmoidoscopy, Linda vomited, aspirated, developed severe respiratory distress and was placed on a ventilator. Additionally, she became hypotensive and was in septic shock. Improvement started slowly but she was not able to be weaned from the ventilator at the local hospital and Linda came to us this past summer. This is where her journey to real improvement started. Our expert team was able to successfully wean Linda from the ventilator and remove her tracheostomy. However, she was also weakened by her illness and she needed strengthening. Linda was a partner in her care and worked very hard with her Physical and Occupational therapist as she gained the strength she needed in order to prepare to have follow- up surgery. Linda left us after 5 weeks to have her additional surgical procedure. She came back to visit us to thank the team she credited for saving her life. Our patient’s story is not unlike the many successes that our patients have at LifeCare-Hospitals of Chester County.
We know the care we deliver at LifeCare Hospitals of Chester County is exemplary. We know this because our patients tell us so. “It was the best” – “I love it here” – “My hospital stay was comfortable and all of the staff was excellent” – “If hospitals were in Heaven, LifeCare would be there.” These are just a few of the comments from a recent satisfaction survey. We also know this because of our Quality and Satisfaction Scores and we witness miracles every day as we partner with our patients and families making them the center of what we do.