Putting people first

May 3, 2024 | Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Finding the right prescription for person-centered healthcare

Finding the right prescription for person-centered healthcare

Finding the right prescription for person-centered healthcare

Feeling unwell?  Don’t worry, help is at hand.  A team of primary care providers, specialists, and caregivers is ready and waiting whenever and wherever you need them, in the hospital, the clinic, or the comfort of your home.  They don’t just focus on your condition; they take the time to understand you – your hopes, your preferences, your values.  Then, they craft a personalized treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. 

Everything is geared to helping you achieve your health and wellness goals, with intuitive digital devices and remote care to keep a watchful eye on you, flagging assistance whenever you need it.  From the very start, you’re actively participating in the decision-making process.  And here’s the best part – it’s all high-quality, affordable, and transparently priced.  And you decide what success feels like.

Ok, now back to the real world.  Anyone who’s experienced healthcare will know it frequently falls short of this ideal.  Why?  It’s not a matter of lacking the necessary technology or methodologies; these tools are readily available.  The problem lies in their inconsistent application.  We could blame limited resources, but in this case, injecting cash is not a panacea: mindset matters.  Traditionally, healthcare has tended to regard patients as problems to be solved rather than individuals with unique needs and experiences.  ‘Person-centered care’ seeks to change that narrative, putting the emphasis right where it belongs – on you.

Physician heal thyself

Record inflation, supply chain disruptions, staff shortages, unprecedented backlogs…  Never mind patients; healthcare has enough ailments of its own.  Growing and aging populations are bringing forth chronic, complex, and costly conditions, exerting increased pressure on overstretched healthcare systems.  Meanwhile, patients have become more health-conscious and discerning consumers, expecting healthcare to match the slick experiences delivered by industries like technology, finance, retail, and media—fast, flexible, seamless, and cost-effective.  In reality, many patients are deeply unsatisfied, feeling unheard, frustrated by a lack of communication around their healthcare needs. 

Navigating the complexities of healthcare, from obtaining coverage and understanding benefits to finding care and managing costs, often feels like a daunting nightmare.[1] 

No one likes going to the hospital.  However, poor patient experiences—before, during, or after care – can exacerbate this natural aversion and increase rates of care deferral.  Nearly a quarter of US consumers have deferred healthcare,[2] but you can only put off your health for so long.  Many A&E visits and chronic, complex conditions could be avoided by preventative care, rapid treatment, and ensuring patients stick to treatment plans.  This would not only save and improve lives; it would free up considerable resources for unavoidable care requirements.  Avoidable emergency care costs the US$ 8.3 billion a year,[3]  while around 60% of clinicians say deferred care led to an increase in complications, with 30% reporting an increase in mortality.[4]

Person-centered care creates healthier individuals – and healthcare budgets

Person-centered care promises a path to meet patient expectations and drive growth and excellence within the healthcare industry.  This isn’t just an altruistic endeavor; it makes sound business sense.  McKinsey research reveals that “consumer-centric healthcare companies drive more than twice the revenue growth as companies in the same industry with lower patient satisfaction scores.”[5]

So, what is person-centered care?  According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), person-centered care respects individual patient preferences, needs, and values, with patient values guiding clinical decisions.[6]  In person-centered care, patients are active partners in their care, especially those managing multiple chronic conditions who become experts in self-management over time.[7]

Person-centered care elevates patient satisfaction, reduces care deferral, increases engagement in routine care, and reduces inpatient admissions, creating a virtuous cycle.[8]  In a study at Johns Hopkins, a third of patients said kindness and “efforts to connect with me as a human being” were their top concern about the patient-physician relationship, and 80% wanted shared decision-making for medications.[9]

It helps healthcare providers, too.  Person-centered care fundamentals, like data sharing, collaboration, and joined-up care, enhance treatment quality and boost efficiency.  Healthier patients are cheaper to treat; happier patients are more loyal.  Engaged patients are more likely to comply with treatment and stay healthier.[10]  A McKinsey study revealed that healthcare consumerism is a top priority for 90% of healthcare provider executives and 100% of chief marketing officers, underscoring the significance of person-centered care in the industry.  Patients who use patient-centric models are 28% less likely than those who don’t to switch providers and are five to six times more likely to use other services from that provider. [11]  

Diagnosing in person-centered care

Person-centered care is an expansive concept with no single definition.  However, researchers at Harvard, commissioned by The Picker Institute and The Commonwealth Fund, define eight key practices that provide a useful foundation:[12]

1. Respect for the patient’s values, preferences, and expressed needs:

  • Treat patients as individuals; respect their values and autonomy, and involve them in the decision-making process and get ongoing feedback.
  • Incorporate population data on lifestyle, health, and other contributing preferences to determine the optimal methods of care delivery and create a ‘whole-person’ approach to care.
  • Identify populations with low care engagement where preventative and primary care can help avoid acute care.

2. Information and education:

  • Inform patients of their clinical status, progress, and prognosis—including updates and alerts for routine care or follow-up treatment.[13]
  • Give patients access to medical records and the opportunity to clarify or add information.
  • Keep family members and caregivers informed throughout the process.
  • Provide counseling guidance for parents and guardians on child health and developmental issues.
  • Make information publicly available to aid patient choice of healthcare providers.
  • Educate patients on the availability and use of telemedicine.

3. Access to care:

  • Make care available when and where patients need it—both online and in-person.
  • Consider digital literacy and educate patients on using technology where necessary.
  • Make appointments easy to schedule and provide out-of-hours services to access primary care at nights, weekends, and holidays.
  • Provide clear instructions on when and how to get referrals.[14]

(At least half the world’s population still does not have access to essential health services[15] as we discuss in our previous article to learn more about efforts to improve global access to care.)

4. Emotional support to relieve fear and anxiety:

  • Ensure patients, family, friends, and caregivers feel empowered, educated, and supported to help relieve distress and aid recovery.
  • Help patients manage their feelings and understand how their condition impacts themselves, their finances, and their loved ones.

5. Involvement of family and friends

  • Help patients to establish a support network of nearest to manage their conditions and aid recovery.
  • This can include providing accommodations for providing accommodations for family and friends, involving them in decision-making, and supporting family members in their role as caregivers.

6. Continuity and secure transition between healthcare settings:

  • Help patients to care for themselves after discharge; provide advice on medications, dietary and lifestyle needs, and how to manage their physical limitations.
  • Create a plan for ongoing treatments and provide information and access to clinical, social, physical, and financial support.[16]

7. Physical comfort:

  • Help patients with pain management.
  • Assist with daily activities at home.
  • Design clinical settings to increase comfort.

8. Coordination of care:

  • Coordinate clinical care to reduce feelings of vulnerability, including ancillary and support services and front-line patient care.
  • Keep patients informed on their clinical progress and test results, and treatment plans and monitor adherence.
  • Make patient information, risk factors, and best practices readily available to healthcare professionals to enable communication and joined-up care.
  • Establish systems to ensure referrals take place and provide prompt feedback and clear information on the availability of support services.[17]

Person-centered care and integrated care

Person-centered care is a broader framework that incorporates and complements other care delivery models, with integrated care and value-based care being fundamental.

Imperial College London succinctly characterizes integrated care as a model that brings together healthcare professionals to work collaboratively and provide services “all in one place.”[18]

Person-centered care and integrated care are deeply intertwined and mutually reinforcing.  While integrated care represents a specific approach to healthcare delivery, person-centered care encompasses a broader spectrum of methods, including co-production and the active involvement of patients in redesigning healthcare services. 

True integrated care is most effective when grounded in a culture of person-centered care, encompassing systems, organizations, providers, patients, and their caregivers.  In this context, person-centered care is better understood as a guiding philosophy rather than a quantifiable outcome, while integrated care can be measured directly through indices of effectiveness, efficiency, and patient experience.[19]

Value-based care and person-centered care

Value-based healthcare revolves around compensating providers based on patient health outcomes rather than the volume of services rendered.  This model incentivizes providers to enhance patients’ health, reduce chronic disease effects, and promote evidence-based, healthier living.[20]  In countries with socialized healthcare, value-based healthcare, as defined  by the University of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine (CEBM), focuses on “the equitable, sustainable and transparent use of the available resources to achieve better outcomes and experiences for every person.”[21]

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) underscores the integrated nature of value-based care and its alignment with the person-centered care approach, which “differs from a traditional fee-for-service system where patients get their health care from multiple, siloed specialists who focus on a specific health issue rather than patients’ comprehensive, long-term needs.”[22]

Value-based care brings several advantages:

  • Prioritizing value over volume enhances care quality and customer satisfaction, leading to quicker recoveries and the avoidance of complex conditions.
  • An emphasis on prevention reduces emergency care and chronic conditions, ultimately improving patient outcomes, freeing up resources, and reducing overall healthcare spending.
  • Payers gain better cost control, while risk is mitigated by extending it across a larger patient population.
  • Additionally, aligning prices with patient outcomes fosters supplier competitiveness.[23]

Upgrade technology; upgrade care . . .

Digital transformation is revolutionizing healthcare across the board, and person-centered care is no exception. 

Technology boosts accessibility, enables round-the-clock remote care, and generates valuable data to enhance decision-making and drive proactive care.  It also eases pressure on resources.  Over half of healthcare leaders are turning to digital health tech to overcome workforce shortages and attract younger professionals who prioritize AI and connected care opportunities.[24]  McKinsey predicts that embracing tech for productivity gains could slash healthcare spending by up to US$ 550 billion by 2028 (and that’s just for the US).[25]

Person-centered care includes more than care delivered in person.  In fact, virtual care is one of the biggest enablers of person-centered care, fostering a more interconnected patient experience and enhancing overall health outcomes.  Virtual care encompasses a wide range of components, including:

  • Connected digital platforms: Seamless integration from primary care to post-surgery, focusing on proactive, data-driven, and user-friendly solutions.
  • Remote monitoring and diagnostics: Utilizing wearables and connected devices, supported by AI and predictive analytics, to flag potential issues early.
  • Digital command centers: Creating centralized hubs for monitoring and coordinating operations, including virtual calls or home health visits.  Examples include radiology operations command centers and tele-ICUs.[26],[27]

The advantages of virtual care are substantial.  Virtual care is more effective, ensuring patients receive the care they need, keeping them healthier at home longer and preventing disease progression to crisis points.  Studies show that telemedicine often outperforms traditional in-person care in various quality measures.[28]

Virtual care has also proven to reduce expensive emergency department visits by up to 38%, easing the burden on caregivers and significantly lowering the cost of care.[29]  It is safer and more convenient, too.  Research from McKinsey found that 60% of consumers expect online access to healthcare services, from appointment scheduling to medical records and test results.[30]  Virtual care overcomes mobility issues and minimizes exposure to pathogens, which is particularly crucial for vulnerable populations.

Virtual care has rapidly accelerated since the COVID-19 pandemic.  The global telehealth and telemedicine market is expected to grow exponentially, reaching US$ 285.7 billion by 2027.[31]  Multiple organizations worldwide are investing heavily in virtual care, including major US-based healthcare providers like Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente, businesses like Best Buy and CVS, and governments from the UK to Israel.[32]  McKinsey estimates that a further US$ 250 billion in outpatient spend could be shifted to virtual settings.[33]

When algorithms know patients better than anyone

Data interoperability, accessibility, and advanced analytics promise more personalized, timely, efficient, and effective healthcare services.  Tech pioneers are building upon the data infrastructure established over the past decade to scale value-based models and deliver deeper insights to drive drug discovery, precision medicine, and personalized care.  One such innovative solution is HPE Swarm Learning.[34]  This decentralized machine learning platform empowers researchers and healthcare providers to collaborate and share data seamlessly, enhancing the accuracy of AI models while mitigating bias.  Importantly, these efforts align with stringent data privacy regulations, ensuring security and compliance in data utilization.

AI is a game-changer.  Healthcare organizations are harnessing its power to discern intricate patterns within complex data and provide invaluable support to clinicians.  AI use cases encompass workflow automation and predictive analytics, a dynamic duo that aids in diagnosing intricate conditions and determining optimal treatment protocols, championing the cause of personalization and precision medicine.

Careful progress

While the components of person-centered care already exist, fully integrating them into the complex, vast, and fragmented healthcare industry presents several challenges:

  • Funding and incentives: Governments and payers must construct reimbursement strategies encouraging integrated care pathways, making the healthcare system more sustainable.[35] Shifting resources from expensive hospital beds to efficient, home-based care requires incentivizing the transition to tech-driven services.
  • Balancing virtual and in-person care: While virtual care offers numerous benefits, it should enhance rather than replace in-person care.  Striking the right balance and ensuring various care options is essential to meet diverse patient needs.
  • Responsible data use: Getting data right, preserving privacy, avoiding bias, and ensuring explainability with proper governance are pivotal challenges.  The healthcare industry must harness the power of AI while addressing these concerns.
  • Engaging healthcare professionals: Clinicians should be actively involved in devising new ways of working, fully trained in preventative care, other person-centered care methodologies, and supporting technology, and onboard with the changes.
  • Investment: The transition to person-centered care requires substantial investment.  Consumer-focused healthcare deals have seen significant growth, indicating a shift in the industry’s focus.[36]  However, further investment is needed to drive this transformation effectively.

Long live person-centered care

Picture this: a healthcare landscape where your voice matters, your values are respected, and empowerment is the norm. 

Where digital technology enhances, rather than replaces, the personal touch.  And you’re kept out of hospital as much as possible.

There’s a long way to go until every care journey is seamless and supported from end to end.  But person-centered care reassures us we’re headed in the right direction.


[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/driving-growth-through-consumer-centricity-in-healthcare

[2] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/driving-growth-through-consumer-centricity-in-healthcare

[3] https://www.hfma.org/payment-reimbursement-and-managed-care/payment-trends/63247/

[4] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/driving-growth-through-consumer-centricity-in-healthcare

[5] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/driving-growth-through-consumer-centricity-in-healthcare

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4484696/

[7] https://ijic.org/articles/10.5334/ijic.s3416

[8] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/driving-growth-through-consumer-centricity-in-healthcare

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32644993/

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490238/

[11] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/driving-growth-through-consumer-centricity-in-healthcare

[12] https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/fund-reports/2007/oct/patient-centered-care-what-does-it-take

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490238/

[14] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490238/

[15] https://www.bmj.com/content/382/bmj.p2160

[16] https://www.oneviewhealthcare.com/blog/the-eight-principles-of-patient-centered-care/

[17] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1490238/

[18] https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/sites/default/files/media/geva-greenfield-integrated-care-evaluation-nwlondon-may14.pdf

[19] https://ijic.org/articles/10.5334/ijic.s3416

[20] https://catalyst.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/CAT.17.0558

[21] https://www.cebm.ox.ac.uk/resources/reports/defining-value-based-healthcare-in-the-nhs

[22] https://www.cms.gov/priorities/innovation/key-concept/person-centered-care

[23] https://catalyst.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/CAT.17.0558

[24] https://www.philips.com/a-w/about/news/archive/blogs/innovation-matters/2023/20230419-taking-healthcare-everywhere-three-key-themes-from-the-2023-future-health-index.html

[25] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/the-productivity-imperative-for-healthcare-delivery-in-the-united-states

[26] https://www.philips.com/a-w/about/innovation/research/our-programs/radiology-operations-command-center.html

[27] https://www.usa.philips.com/healthcare/resources/landing/teleicu

[28] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00034894211055349

[29] https://www.philips.com/a-w/about/news/archive/standard/news/articles/2023/20230727-philips-and-u-s-healthcare-provider-coxhealth-co-design-in-house-virtual-care-solution-to-help-improve-patient-outcomes-and-increase-staff-satisfaction.html

[30] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/the-next-frontier-of-care-delivery-in-healthcare#patient

[31] https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-telehealth–telemedicine-markets-2022-2027—opportunities-in-use-of-blockchain-ai-and-analytics–virtual-assistants-301523805.html

[32] https://www.ey.com/en_uk/health/how-virtual-and-in-person-care-merge-for-a-healthier-and-more-sustainable-future

[33] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/telehealth-a-quarter-trillion-dollar-post-covid-19-reality

[34] https://www.hpe.com/us/en/hpe-swarm-learning.html

[35] https://www.ey.com/en_gl/health/how-virtual-and-in-person-care-merge-for-a-healthier-and-more-sustainable-future

[36] https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare/our-insights/driving-growth-through-consumer-centricity-in-healthcare

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