The future of patient-centered care: scenarios, visions, and audacious goals

Journal Article

By: C Bezold
Publication Name: J Altern Complement Med
Year: 2005

The U.S. health care system is transforming. It must. Patient-centered care (PCC) is a core quality that the system should include. This article presents the highlights of a project on the future of PCC created for the Picker Institute. As an example of futures work, this project developed four images or stories of what might happen, as well as a vision and audacious goals for what should happen to PCC. The first and most likely scenario is an increase in patient-centeredness as a function of current trends. However, in the second scenario, health care could become even more stressed and leave PCC behind as it seeks to lower cost without focusing on quality. The third scenario envisions more excellent systems that integrate PCC seamlessly into their work. The fourth scenario sees collaboration and shared responsibility, in association with advanced information tools, thereby enabling PCC to contribute to preventing illness and lowering health care costs. The scenarios indicate that the patient-centeredness of health care could improve slightly, stall, or advance significantly. The PCC Vision calls for each of us to be in charge of our health, and to get the care we need (not less and not more) in timely, effective, and personal ways consistent with our values. The audacious goals set an agenda with priorities from the PCC community. These include shared decision making by consumers, ensuring health care professionals are trained in supporting active patients, anticipating health and long-term care needs for individuals, adopting the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) simple rules for health care, and making the patient perspective a priority in policy and planning. Each of us and our organizations are confronted with the challenge of this vision and audacious goals. Health care professionals and provider systems, whether conventional or alternative in nature, face these issues. While complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers often get higher marks from consumers for their attention, many CAM modalities are largely provider-determined. Patient-centered care will require more empowerment and activation of patients and consumers.

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