Person-Centered Care

The terms Patient-Centered Care and Person-Centered Care have been used a great deal in recent years to describe a fundamental shift away from care based on the needs of the provider. I’ve seen many definitions of these terms along the way, but none have been as well-stated as one offered by Anthony Tersigni, President and CEO of Ascension Health in St. Louis in the May 2015 issue of Hospitals and Health Networks Magazine.

What do people want from person-centered care?

According to Mr. Tersigni, “They want us to respect them, they want us to include them, they want us to connect them, and they want us to engage them. They say: ‘Respect me. Those who care for me know me, understand what’s important to me and treat me with respect and communicate in a way that I can understand.’ They say: ‘Include me. Those who care for me actually are listening to me, include my family and others I trust in my care, and work as a team in providing care that is holistic – body, mind and spirit.’ [They say: Connect me:] ‘I want to be connected to reliable health information that’s relevant to me and networks of people like me.’ People with chronic diseases need to be socially connected with other people who have those same chronic diseases so they can have a social dialogue in terms of what’s happening in their lives. The last piece is: ‘Engage me. I engage in the decision-making with my trusted partners.’”

Why Person-Centered instead of Patient-Centered?

Hospitals and other healthcare organizations have historically cared for patients (those who present with an illness or disease), but if you are going to increase the focus to include wellness and disease prevention, your terminology must follow suit. It has to be about persons, and not just patients.