Patient-Driven Care Beats Patient-Centered Care: Here's Why

Everything that's wrong with healthcare can be summarized in a few words, once stated by the legendary Ethel Merman in the 1963 movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World: "When these things happen, they just say, ‘these things happen’, and that's why they happen!."

Paul Levy, a healthcare adviser and former CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, shared this quote at the Becker's Hospital Review CEO Strategy Roundtable, as he shared his thoughts on the problems that plague healthcare as well as ideas to improve it through patient-driven care.

The healthcare paradox
Healthcare in America experiences an interesting paradox. Physicians, clinicians and administrators are highly committed, highly educated and highly intelligent, yet when they work together they are responsible for the 5th most likely cause of death in America.

Mr. Levy is bullish that healthcare can change, can improve, but leaders must reject that “these things happen mindset” and focus on transforming their systems into highly reliable, patient-driven organizations.

Patient-centered vs. patient-driven
He uses the term "patient-driven" over "patient centered" intentionally. Patient-centric, he says, implies clinicians are in charge, even if the patient is at the center. Patient-driven, however, means the patient is truly in center.

When hospitals' current patient engagement tactics are considered, it is clear hospitals have some work to do, argues Mr. Levy. Consider the current patient engagement menu for most hospitals:


  •  Post-treatment surveys, sometimes weeks and months after care delivery
  • Online portals, which generally aren't interactive or real-time
  • Corporate websites, which don’t allow two-way communication,
  • Patient family advisory councils, which are interactive, but not real-time

"They’re all so 20th century in how they operate, and if you haven't noticed we're well into the 21st century," said Mr. Levy.

He urges hospitals to push past industry norms and find news ways of engaging patients in their care. Characteristics of patient engagement today must, he argues, include:

  • Interactive, and in the modes actually used by people
  • Engaged in real-time
  • Omit technical jargon
  • Segmented for various audiences

"There is no virtue in benchmarking yourself to a substandard norm"  said Mr. Levy, as he encouraged healthcare organizations to resist the mentality of simply comparing themselves to others and assuming it's the best they can do.

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