As discussed in this chapter, neither patients nor clinicians can perform their tasks alone. While clinicians supply their scientific expertise on the benefits and risks of different options, patients contribute their knowledge about the suitability of different options for their needs, goals, and circumstances. Both are necessary to providing the right care. Given that patient-centered care is not simply agreeing to every patient request, many tools are needed to communicate information, create partnerships, and improve decision-making models (Maurer et al., 2012). Further, involving patients meaningfully at the organizational and system levels requires changes in organizational structures and measurement tools and an expanded focus on the patient in all aspects of care. Recommendation 4 highlights the broad aims that different stakeholder groups need to pursue if health care’s focus on patients is to increase.

Recommendation 4: Patient-Centered Care

Involve patients and families in decisions regarding health and health care, tailored to fit their preferences. Patients and families should be given the opportunity to be fully engaged participants at all levels, including individual care decisions, health system learning and improvement activities, and community-based interventions to promote health.

Strategies for progress toward this goal:

  • Patients and families should expect to be offered full participation in their own care and health and encouraged to partner, according to their preference, with clinicians in fulfilling those expectations.
  • Clinicians should employ high-quality, reliable tools and skills for informed shared decision making with patients and families, tailored to clinical needs, patient goals, social circumstances, and the degree of control patients prefer.
  • Health care delivery organizations, including programs operated by the Department of Defense, the Veterans Health Administration, and Health Resources and Services Administration, should monitor and assess patient perspectives and use the insights thus gained to improve care processes; establish patient portals to facilitate data sharing and communication among clinicians, patients, and


4Note that in Chapters 6-9, the committee’s recommendations are numbered according to their sequence in the taxonomy in Chapter 10.

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