The concept of patient-centered care has gained significant attention in recent years since the publication of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report “Crossing the Quality Chasm” in 2001. This groundbreaking study introduced a new framework for defining healthcare quality and improving systems of care. It outlined six core values, or aims, for delivering healthcare: safety, effectiveness, efficiency, patient-centeredness, timeliness, and equity.
Patient-centered care is specifically defined as “care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values.” In other words, it puts the patient and their loved ones at the heart of the care team, working collaboratively with healthcare professionals to make clinical decisions. It also empowers patients to take responsibility for aspects of their own care and provides the necessary tools and support to carry out those responsibilities. Patient-centered care ensures that transitions between providers, departments, and healthcare settings are respectful, coordinated, and efficient.
But what does it mean to be an “epatient”? An epatient is best described as someone who embraces the principles of patient-centered care and actively engages in their healthcare journey. They are informed, empowered, and actively involved in making decisions about their own health. An epatient recognizes the importance of transparency, individualization, recognition, respect, dignity, and choice in all matters related to their health and well-being.
The Role of Technology in Patient-Centered Care
Informatics, the field of health information technology, plays a crucial role in enabling patient-centered care. It focuses on how information is acquired, stored, and used in healthcare. Informatics has the potential to promote patient-centered care by facilitating the availability of important information to patients and clinicians. However, it can also be a barrier if not implemented thoughtfully.
Figure 1 illustrates the various ways informatics can be used to promote or detract from quality oncology care. Patients and clinicians exist in a vast universe of information, with only a portion of it being high-quality and reliable. Informatics can empower patients to provide critical information about their functioning and well-being to their clinicians, enabling personalized care. It also helps clinicians integrate patient information with their medical knowledge and data resources to improve patient care. Additionally, informatics allows patients to share information with family, friends, and other patients through social networking sites. It facilitates the update and sharing of critical information among the patient’s care team through electronic medical records.
However, it is important to acknowledge that not all information available to clinicians and patients is accurate or useful. Misinformation can lead to anxiety and uncertainty in patients, questioning the competence of their healthcare providers. Clinicians, being better equipped to judge information quality, play a crucial role in directing patients to reliable and trustworthy resources.
Harnessing the Power of Informatics for Patient-Centered Care
The key to harnessing the full potential of informatics in promoting patient-centered care lies in using technology to direct both patients and clinicians to high-quality information and facilitating the sharing of this information. By providing access to reliable and evidence-based resources, informatics empowers patients to make well-informed decisions about their health. It enables clinicians to stay updated with the latest advancements in their field and deliver the best possible care to their patients.
In conclusion, the concept of patient-centered care has revolutionized the healthcare industry. The rise of epatients, who actively participate in their healthcare journey, reflects the evolution towards a more patient-centered approach. Informatics plays a vital role in supporting patient-centered care by facilitating the availability of reliable information to patients and clinicians. By harnessing the power of informatics, we can enhance the healthcare experience, promote better outcomes, and ensure that patients remain at the center of their care.
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