Washington, D.C. (PRWEB) February 21, 2013
WiserTogether’s study released today found that doctors don’t do enough to consider their patients’ needs before prescribing treatment. And solid evidence proves that when physicians’ decisions are centered around patients as whole individuals, patient outcomes are better--so much better that the Institute of Medicine has made it one of the six foundations of quality care. The latest update of the Patient-Centered Care Index (PCCI), a nationwide, quarterly survey of 2,500 patients who have received physician care in the last six months, places the PCCI at 3.46 on a 5.0 scale. A score of at least 4.0 is required for patients to agree that physicians are effective at patient-centered care, so this is a middling score that leaves much room for improvement.
The PCCI is administered by WiserTogether, Inc., a Washington, D.C.- based company that helps patients and doctors better achieve patient-centered care.
Patient-centered care is important because it improves patient health and lowers total cost of care. It’s an important element in improving health care in America and is among the least expensive to implement. However, it represents a change for many physicians and hospital systems, whose traditional top-down decision making revolves around clinical protocols and physician experience rather than patient values and involvement. It’s unclear to what degree America’s physicians have either the skill or the will to embrace patient-centered care.
A recent University of Michigan study demonstrated that patients with empathetic doctors felt less pain, as measured both by patient reports and MRIs. Similarly, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that patients who felt their doctors didn’t connect with them adhered to their medications 4% to 6% percent less frequently than patients who said they felt a connection to their doctors.
To get at how well physicians are putting patients at the center of their care decisions, the PCCI asks patients about their physician’s performance on five essential aspects of patient care:
First, PCCI probes whether physicians are doing a good job of understanding a patient’s situation and values and taking these into account to make appropriate care decisions.
Second, it measures whether physicians are helping a patient truly understand the options available for tests and treatments.
Third, PCCI asks whether physicians are helping patients understand the evidence for or against various options.
Fourth, PCCI looks into whether physicians are establishing empathy and good communication with patients.
And fifth, PCCI gauges whether physicians involve patients in the decision making about their care.
Individually and collectively, these five factors are associated with care that delivers better outcomes for patients.
Within the PCCI’s component measurements, there are interesting differences in how America’s physicians perform. Physicians perform best when involving patients in decision making. Though patients overall rate physician performance as unacceptable in this area, physicians are doing measurably better at involving patients in decisions than they are doing in other areas. Physicians are worst at trying to understand a patient’s personal values and situation before recommending care, and at helping patients understand their range of options.
The overall picture painted by PCCI shows America’s physicians starting to reach out to patients to get them more involved in decision making, but without the skills, tools, and patience to ask the right questions and provide the guidance needed for shared decisions to reach their potential. “America has a shortage of doctors, and that’s going to get worse, not better, as the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented.” says Gregg Rosenberg, Chief Product Officer of WiserTogether. “Doctors have very little time to spend with each patient. If they’re going to succeed at patient-centered care, they need help. They need tools to understand their patients in the limited time they have, and to help their patients understand their options quickly, accurately, and in ways relevant to care.”
WiserTogether Inc., helps patients choose the right care at the right time. The company offers an innovative, web- and mobile based treatment selection and shared decision support platform that helps patients make personalized, evidence-based, and cost-effective treatment decisions across a growing list of preferences-sensitive health issues including musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, mental health, diabetes, pregnancy and respiratory illnesses. Patients using WiserTogether's platform achieve better health outcomes through more effective treatment decisions, saving payers money and giving themselves peace of mind.
Today, more than 1.5 million people have access to WiserTogether's platform through employers and health plans in the country.
Founded in 2008 and privately held, WiserTogether is based in Washington, DC.