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Top 3 Factors Driving Patient-Centered Healthcare Initiatives

Supporting patient access to care, care coordination, and patient technology adoption are the keys to reducing reactionary medicine and driving patient-centered healthcare.

By Sara Heath

When it comes to patient-centered healthcare and shifting away from reactionary medicine, providers and patients need to keep three key factors in mind: patient access to healthcare, care coordination, and patient technology adoption.

patient-centered-healthcare

A recent Philips report explores those key issues showing how patients and providers may perceive them differently, and mapping out how they can use new strategies to shift away from reactionary medicine toward patient-centered care.

Part of shifting away from reactive care – or the practice of administering treatment once a patient faces an issue rather than preventing the issue from occurring in the first place – is ensuring that patients have adequate access to healthcare. Most physicians think the industry is successful on that front.

Three quarters of physician respondents think patients have ample access to medical tests required for diagnoses, as well as vaccinations and other preventative services. Sixty-nine percent think patients have plenty of access to treatments for current and future medical conditions and 67 percent think patients have the information and resources necessary for leading an overall healthy lifestyle.

Patient responses paint a different picture, however. Outside forces, such as high healthcare costs, serve as a significant barrier from having adequate access to these treatments. Seventy percent of patients think that reducing healthcare costs should be government officials’ highest priority.

Providers also seemingly understand this cost burden. Although they know the resources exist for patients to receive quality healthcare, they report that several of their patients cannot engage in these resources. A total of 65 percent of providers said that they think some of their patients do not access healthcare because of its high costs.

Patients and providers also diverge on their perception of integrated and coordinated healthcare. While both parties agree that care coordination is important for cost savings and a better patient experience, they do not entirely agree on the extent to which it can help.

Providers think care coordination could help reduce costs for certain aspects of healthcare, like diagnosis (68 percent) or treatments (71 percent). However, they report that those cost reductions would be on a case by case basis. In the long term, providers think patients could actually see an overall cost increase due to robust care coordination.

Despite these differences, both patients and providers identified similar barriers to care coordination. Both see bureaucracy as the top barrier to coordination, followed by insurance companies, overall healthcare costs, and government-related policies.

Most providers think adding healthcare technology would help patients better access care and have a more positive experience. Potential benefits may include better wellness guidance, motivation to achieve health goals, management of symptoms, nutrition and fitness support, friends and family support, better access to care facilities, and more personalized consultations and treatments.

Patients agree. Over half of them report using a health app or device to track their weight and nutrition, as well as other health-related information.

Going forward, Philips reported that those three factors – the shift to patient-centered care, care coordination and health system integration, and technology adoption – will largely influence how patients and providers continue to perceive patient experience.

Embracing these models will help providers shift the focus from reacting to health issues within the exam room toward serving patient needs where and when they need.

“These shifts will chip away at the existing cycle of reactive care by moving care from the clinical exam room to serve patients wherever they are; by coordinating healthcare with other social services that promote health (housing, food, legal and financial services) to create integrated systems; and by leveraging connected technologies to encode intuitive behaviors that promote health in individuals,” the report’s authors wrote.

While this shift will require significant action on the part of the provider, the patient will also need to step up to the plate. Patients who work to engage themselves fully in their care will be more effective in driving the healthcare industry in their patient-centered direction.

“Patients will have to step up to their new role, too. They will have an abundance of tools and more choices of where, when, how, and from whom to receive care,” the report concluded. “As the diagnose-and-treat model of clinical services is interrupted, patients will not only have greater support for preventing disease and managing chronic conditions, but they will also benefit from true consultation and coaching.”

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