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Consumer Engagement: Putting the Patient in “Patient-Centered Care”

Have you ever had the same medical test repeated twice or more because your different doctors didn’t share the test results?  Have you left a doctor’s office confused about what was said or what you were supposed to do? Did you ever feel like you didn’t have all the information you needed to make a decision about surgery or other treatment? Join the club.

Older Adults and Others with Multiple Chronic Conditions Get Uneven Care That Costs Too Much

The problems described above are particularly frequent for older adults and other people with chronic health conditions. In fact, fragmented, uncoordinated care and poor communications among doctors and between doctors and patients contributes to our nation’s high health care costs and uneven outcomes.

  • People with chronic conditions account for 85% of health spending in the US. 96% of Medicare spending is on patients with multiple chronic conditions.
  • One out of five Medicare beneficiaries is readmitted after a hospital stay. Those readmissions are expensive, risky for the patient, and largely preventable.  

Likewise, many emergency department visits and hospitalizations for people with chronic illnesses could be avoided if the patient had better coordination and communication – what is often called, “Patient-centered care.”  The Campaign for Better Care has developed “Eight Keys to Better Care,” to state clearly what older adults want from their care. 

Patient-Centered Care is the Solution – But Will the Patient be At the Center?

Providers and payers are struggling to develop new models of care that do a more effective job at keeping people with chronic health conditions healthy and out of the hospital. Doing so will improve patient and population health, as well as dramatically lowering health care costs. But can providers and payers (insurers and employers) design more patient-centered care without input from patients?

If you’ve ever heard a doctor complain about patients who don’t follow their instructions or don’t show up for appointments, you’ll know that doctors don’t always know what it’s like to be at the other end of the stethoscope – or what’s getting in the way of patient “compliance.”  We need to make sure that older adults and family caregivers, as well as patient advocates, have real input into the design of “patient-centered” primary care models.

New Models of Care Are Being Created Across Ohio – Will Patients and Families Have a Voice?

Efforts to develop patient-centered primary care for patients with chronic conditions are going on in Cincinnati (Aligning Forces for Quality, a project of the Cincinnati Health Improvement Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati), Cleveland (Better Health Greater Cleveland) and Columbus (Access HealthColumbus Primary Care Collaborative), as well as in Ohio’s Medicaid program (the Health Homes Initiative). At the same time, hospitals across the state are engaged in patient safety initiatives, spurred by the HHS “Partnership for Patients.”

The Ohio Campaign for Better Care wants all of these patient-centered primary care and patient safety initiatives to have a strong, effective voice of patients and family caregivers involved in designing and giving input into the model. We’re calling for Patient/Family Advisory Councils (or “PFACs”).

Sign Up to Join the Ohio Campaign for Better Care and get involved with bringing PFACs to Ohio!.