Why the nation needs a policy push on patient-centered health care
The phrase “patient-centered care” is in vogue, but its meaning is poorly understood. This article describes patient-centered care, why it matters, and how policy makers can advance it in practice. Ultimately, patient-centered care is determined by the quality of interactions between patients and clinicians. The evidence shows that patient-centered care improves disease outcomes and quality of life, and that it is critical to addressing racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in health care and health outcomes. Policy makers need to look beyond such areas as health information technology to shape a coordinated and focused national policy in support of patient-centered care. This policy should help health professionals acquire and maintain skills related to patient-centered care, and it should encourage organizations to cultivate a culture of patient-centeredness.
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