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Ever get confused about what the difference between patient-centered care and patient-focused care is?

Both are delivery of care models focused on improving effectiveness, but they are not the same.

In his 2003 thesis, healthcare architect (now turned professor) Kirk Hamilton wrote that "patient-centered care is a philosophy that empowers the patient and his or her family to play an active role in the decisions affecting his or her care."

Pioneered by Planetree in the 1970s-80s, patient-centered care is supported by designing healthcare environments that reduce stress and help humanize healthcare. The Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care has also been one of the drivers of this philosophy.

Kirk wrote that unlike the philosophy-based model of patient care, patient-focused care is an economic model, "aimed at addressing economic problems and hospital costs associated with redundancy, poor job design, and excessive transport of patients and equipment." Patient-focused care is supported by designing healthcare environments that support operational changes, such as decentralized nursing or acuity adaptable rooms.

What If You're Not a Patient?

And there's also "person-centered care," which comes from the residential care side of healthcare where there aren't "patients." The Pioneer Network has been instrumental in championing this culture change model.

When you think about it, person-centered care can be applied to everyone in any kind of healthcare facility -- from the staff, to the patients or residents, and the family members or caregivers.

In the end, it's about better outcomes.  And everybody in the healthcare setting contributes to better outcomes.

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Kirk Hamilton

9 years ago

Patient focused care is a term coined by Phil Lathrop, a consultant with Booz Allen, and it was the title of his book.

Sara Marberry

9 years ago

Thanks, Kirk! Here's a link to the book, if anyone is interested.

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Sara Marberry, EDAC, is a healthcare design knowledge expert, thought catalyst, and strategic marketing and business development consultant. The author/editor of three books, Sara writes and speaks frequently about industry trends and evidence-based design. She can be reached at sara@saramarberry.com.

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