Healthcare leaders increasingly recognize the value of patient centered care models. However, many do seem to struggle to implement solutions smoothly across large, complex delivery systems. Competing priorities and entrenched mindsets often hinder change. Through a combination of incremental improvements, change management tactics, and workforce engagement, health systems can streamline adoption of patient centric solutions.
Start Small, Learn, and Scale
The natural instinct when introducing patient centered initiatives is to launch big, systemwide programs right away. But such large rollouts carry risks if processes are unproven. Taking an incremental approach means organizations can test changes on a small scale, work out issues, and build capability before going bigger.
For example, a health system adopting shared decision making might first implement patient decision aids in a single clinic. Workflow experiments and training can be refined within the pilot site. Once the model succeeds locally, practices and lessons learned can inform an expanded rollout.
Starting small allows time for organizational learning – a key ingredient for successfully scaling innovations. It also provides opportunities to involve staff in shaping the broader implementation approach. With careful piloting, large systems can deploy major patient experience solutions smoothly and sustainably.
Manage Change at Multiple Levels
Implementing patient centric care necessitates culture shifts and overcoming inertia. Change requires action at three levels: individual habits, network connections, and organizational structures/processes. Health systems should consider changing tactics in each dimension.
At the habits level, leaders need role model patient centered behaviors while coaching staff on new skill sets like shared decision making. Connection changes may involve cross-departmental committees or mentoring relationships to spread patient centric thinking. Structural initiatives can encompass new patient experience metrics, revamped layouts conducive to family involvement, and updated policies that specify patient participation in governance.
Engage and Equip Frontline Staff
Well-meaning leaders often develop patient experience initiatives without consulting the front lines. But staff who interact daily with patients have invaluable insights. Engaging caregivers early and often ensures workable solutions.
Tap frontline wisdom through surveys, focus groups, and charrettes. Pilot site teams should include staff to operative vet ideas before scaling. Ongoing feedback mechanisms let caregivers shape enhancements over time.
Leverage Technology Thoughtfully
Digital tools like patient portals, virtual care platforms, and mobile apps offer new channels for patient engagement. However, adding tech for tech’s sake can undermine the human relationships at the heart of patient centricity. Systems should carefully evaluate how technologies integrate with nurturing care.
Introduce technologies incrementally to match end user capabilities. Recognize digital literacy barriers for certain patient populations. Provide extensive support and training for providers adapting to virtual care workflows.
Platforms should connect patients to their care team, not isolate them. Video visits enable visual touchpoints, while care journaling features keep families informed. Tailor portal content and alerts to individual needs versus one-size-fits-all.
Behavioral Health Management Companies
In behavioral health, patient centric models are especially impactful. Yet according to those at Horizon Health, entrenched program structures often exclude client input. Behavioral health consulting companies seeking to increase patient centricity should start by examining barriers embedded in current mental health delivery paradigms.
Enable participation through trauma-informed training that builds psychological safety for voicing opinions without judgment. Develop pipelines for those with lived mental health experiences to serve in peer support and advisory roles. Move from siloed psychiatry to integrated care coordinating services around individual needs.
Becoming truly patient centered requires broad engagement, incremental innovation, empathetic technologies, and reimagined structures. Health systems must address the human dimensions of change, not just operational processes. With concerted effort across all levels of an organization, patient centric care can flourish.