Patient-Centered Care Underscored in the time of Pandemic


By Nasim Rezanejad, MD, MS Physician Solutions Informaticist, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

The fiscal Year 2020 challenged and changed all of us. It changed the way we work, the ways we connect, and in some cases, the work we do. What has not changed is our drive and commitment to our patients, our community, and each other. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the importance of our healthcare organizations’ values, and especially our commitment to human life and the centrality of the patient experience and outcomes in everything we do.

Our shared priority should be improving and delivery of integrated comprehensive care and safety for all our patients. Let’s challenge our energy and progress to shoot for delivering an exceptional patient experience.

Improving patient experience is not just the right thing to do; it is essential in today’s more consumer-driven healthcare ecosystem to remain competitive and profitable. I want everyone to view this not as just another challenge to get through, but as an opportunity to better meet your patient population’s changing needs and expectations to innovate and improve the patient experience. One essential component of this is empowering patients to own their healthcare records and more actively engage in their own healthcare or the healthcare of those for which they are caregivers. The importance of a centralized, single integrated system; an un-fragmented system over a wide range of specialties will increase this sense of ownership, efficiency, safety, comprehensive care, continuity of care, lower re-admission rates, and cost-effectiveness for our patients from the front door to the back end.  

The patient experience is critical and a crucial component of our ability to attract and retain patients. When patients form positive relationships and trust their physicians and our organizations, they become more engaged in their own care. Their compliance rate increases and they develop a stronger sense of loyalty to the institution. 

As a healthcare organization, how are we making sure our patients will have a positive experience? What does your organization’s reputation and the quality of care delivered mean to each of you? How will you play your part to deliver coordinated care that leads to better outcomes for your patients?

These are some of the measures that must be taken in order to foster a culture of patient-centered care at your organization; where patients and their families consistently experience quality, compassion, and partnership:

1.  Issues important to patients should be included in all quality initiatives.

2.  Evaluate provider efforts to integrate patient values and preferences into care delivery and discuss the various approaches to developing this crucial organizational competency.

3.  Encourage and support participation from all key stakeholders. We need to promote organization-wide engagement in patient-centered care initiatives. 

4.  Over time, set priorities in collaboration with leadership through integration of strategic priorities.

5. Facilitate communications and integration with other organizational priorities and see the shortcomings and what needs to be done to improve your organization.

6.  Spread and scale patient-centered care initiatives throughout your organization.

Understanding and working to improve the patient experience; which is the sum of all the touchpoints in the continuum of care, is critical. Enhancing patient experience positively impacts the organization: 

1.  Patients, their families and caregivers become more engaged in their own health outcomes.  

2.  Enhances the organizations’ revenue.  

3.  Improves the organizations’ reputation for one of a kind treatment center

Our shared priority should be improving and delivery of integrated comprehensive care and safety for all our patients. Let’s challenge our energy and progress to shoot for delivering an exceptional patient experience.

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