Strategy for human-centered, individualized care

Providing human-centered, individualized care makes a big difference to how patients experience the health system — but not all provider organizations have the right processes in place to enable such care.

During an October Becker's Hospital Review podcast sponsored by NRC Health, Shawna Grissom, director of family services at Children's Hospital Colorado, and Cami Mitelman, customer success manager at NRC Health, discussed the essence of human-centered care and the value of proactively and empathetically addressing patients' needs throughout their healthcare journey.

Three key insights were:

  1. Human-centered care starts with understanding patients' needs and expectations as soon as they walk in the door. When a patient shows up for an appointment, asking them what their main concern is and walking them (or an accompanying caregiver) through what they can expect during their visit ensures that they feel seen and heard. Creating this experience, known as "comfort rounding," helps organizations address immediate patient needs head on.

    "We make sure that [the information patients share] is passed along to their providers, so that we are all on the same page as a care team," Ms. Grissom said.

  2. Conversing with patients at eye level and doing bedside shift handoff are examples of human-centered care. One approach that Children's Hospital Colorado has taken to bring care closer to patients is having clinicians sit down and make intentional eye contact when conversing with hospitalized patients and their families. "By standing up, it can give the sense that we may be in a hurry," Ms. Grissom said. "By having our phone in our hand, it can give the sense that patients are not the most important priority."

    Another way to elevate care is for nurses to do shift handoff at the patient's bedside rather than at a nurse's station. This gives patients and families the opportunity to engage in their care and nurses the opportunity to have a shared view of the patient's treatment plan and goal.

  1. Empowering patients with resources and control over their care is the ultimate measure of human-centered care. In inpatient settings, loosening overly restrictive visitor policies is a way to recognize the deeply human nature of healthcare. Children's Hospital Colorado has taken that path and expanded its visitor list to 10 people. "If I'm a child here at Children's, I can have my mom, my dad, my grandma and my grandpa at my bedside," Ms. Grissom said. "That allows for normalization at a time when things are not so normal."

    In outpatient settings, handing patients a business card with their treating physician's direct phone number, so they can easily get in touch if there is a problem, is also a way to empower patients and orient care toward their needs beyond the immediate clinical encounter. "We know that patients are the experts on their lives and clinicians are the experts on the healthcare that they deliver," Ms. Mitelman said. "And truly, this is a meeting of the experts."

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