The Institute of Medicine defines patient centered care as “Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and ensuring the patients values guide all clinical decisions.”
Um...kay. This sounds great until you are someone with more than one specialist, then I think it’s just crap. Fancy buzz words that marketing reps use to advertise hospitals and their experts.
For 6 months I went to 3 doctors and navigated three healthcare systems to finally find a diagnosis. But things didn’t stop there for me. My genetic liver disease came with several autoimmune diseases. Each one having its own set of symptoms, specialist, and set of prescriptions. When I have a symptom or issue- which specialist do I go to?
It’s up to me to make the rounds and find out.
While I ask that each specialist share test results and information with the others- it doesn’t happen often. I’m constantly repeating myself, printing medical records and recounting office visits to the other doctors. I hunt down information and drive the next steps of my care. I certainly don’t feel like I’m the center of anything; I’m the quarterback of my own healthcare.
What if I were a timid patient without any healthcare knowledge? The majority of patients are not like me and those patients get lost in the system and their disease and quality of life is not managed. I’m living with chronic illness but I’m well enough to advocate for myself.
I can’t help but think of the patients I support who are so very sick and not well enough to advocate for themselves. How could they have the energy to hunt down information, see multiple specialist and drive their healthcare?
For those healthcare systems who truly believe in patient centered care, please keep in mind that patients need help in navigating the healthcare system.
EVERY patient should have a case manager or patient navigator assigned to them from the moment of diagnosis.