Leadership, vision at heart of patient-centered care

While providers say patient-centered care is a top priority, most fall short on delivering it, the author of a new report says.

The Commonwealth Fund study, authored by D. Shaller, says that hospitals and other providers can promote patient-centered care by employing effective leadership, vision and organization-wide communication.

The study says organizations that want to achieve rapid and widespread implementation of patient-centered should focus on:

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  • involvement of patients and families;
  • a supportive work environment;
  • systematic measurement and feedback;
  • information technology.

The Picker Institute commissioned the study, titled "Patient-Centered Care: What Does It Take?"

"The findings from this project indicate that, while there are many promising examples of organizations achieving excellence in patient-centered care, these innovators are not yet the norm," Shaller said. "The challenge lies in elevating the norm through strategies at both the organization and system level that leverage the experience of these innovators to motivate large-scale implementation of patient-centered care."

The 34-page report named MCG Health System in Augusta, Ga., and Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Mich. as facilities that achieve patient-centered care. An assessment of the two hospitals was measured through independent patient surveys and other outcomes.

MCG has been recognized as a pioneer in patient- and family-centered care by the American Hospital Association and the Institute for Family-Centered Care, and was recently featured in the PBS series Remaking American Medicine, the report said. According to Pat Sodomka, senior vice president for patient- and family-centered care at MCG, "Leaders are the guardians of the ideals related to the patient experience of care."

As part of its focus, MCG  formed a Family Advisory Council to advise on patient-centered matters and has more than 125 patient and family collaborators.

Other examples of MCG policy include allowing open family and friend visitation for patients in the intensive care unit. The MCG human resources department strives to hire new employees with attitudes and skills consistent with patient- and family-centered care.

Bronson Methodist Hospital (BMH), the flagship organization of Bronson Healthcare Group, is a large community healthcare system serving a nine-county region. The system has received awards for its patient-centered care, including the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

Frank Sardone, president and CEO of Bronson Healthcare Group described the need for a "three-legged stool" of leadership composed of the board of directors, senior management and the medical and nursing staffs. Bronson Healthcare leaders meet for a two-day retreat three times each year for planning and strategy development on patient-centered care.