Patient-centered care has become a central goal for the US healthcare system under the Affordable Care Act. But haven't patients always been central to the business of hospitals? What is so different about the present reality of patient-centered care?
“Patient-centered care” is used to describe numerous related paradigms but has no universally accepted definition. According to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (2011), “Care that is truly patient-centered considers patients' cultural traditions, their personal preferences and values, their family situations, and their lifestyles. It makes the patient and their loved ones an integral part of the care team who collaborate with healthcare professionals in making clinical decisions … When care is patient-centered … unneeded and unwanted services can be reduced.” A healthcare system that is truly patient-centered may provide higher quality healthcare with greater efficiency while improving the patient experience.