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Patient Partnered v. Patient Centered

February 5, 2023

As a patient, you always hear that a health system has “patient-centered care.” This term has seemingly monopolized hospital marketing recently – after all, who wouldn’t want their care to be all about them? At Ucardia, we pride ourselves on offering patient and provider partnered care.

Originally, this term meant that we team up with the patients and providers we serve, and work together to achieve great patient outcomes. However, I’ve changed my perspective on the term “patient and provider partnered” due to one simple question I was asked recently.

“What is your biggest concern and what is your goal for discharge?”

This was the question posed to me by my son’s pediatrician when he was recently admitted to the hospital for a 5-day stay for a frightening acute illness. For days, I felt like no one was listening to me as a concerned parent. I felt as if my son’s providers were focused more on the numbers – his vitals and diagnostics – and less on the baby in front of them. Even though I am the expert on my child, my son’s care team acted like my experience had little to offer – as if they had every answer.

This simple question – asking me about my concerns and goals – changed the trajectory of my son’s care and my confidence in the care team. I finally felt as if my son was being put first, instead of the clinical numbers on his medical chart. When I answered this question, the providers started to think about my son’s whole health history (including challenges he’d had since he was a newborn), instead of the limited data they had from just a few hours of hospital care. We brought our expertise – their extensive medical experience and my intimate understanding of my child – together for the betterment of my son. In my opinion, this is the true meaning of “patient and provider partnered care.”

Each patient has their own problems, goals, aspirations, and barriers. Importantly, these criteria may not be immediately obvious to the provider, or easily deduced through the medical record or even a patient intake form. As an exercise physiologist myself, I can say that sometimes we providers unconsciously focus on the data and make our own clinical assumptions for the patient. In reality, we should be asking our patients what their goals are and then support achieving these goals in the most clinically appropriate manner. If we are helping a patient achieve their own goals, the patient will be more invested in their own care and adherent to their care plan. If we want to provide the best care possible, we as providers need to open our ears to truly listen to the patient – then look at the data with this context in mind.

As a team of care providers, Ucardia has a similar goal to truly listen to and partner with providers we work with. We are able to solve a number of challenges a provider could be facing in providing cardiac rehab – we always begin our conversations by listening to providers and their goals and barriers. We are able to help providers and other staff to be relieved of burdensome administrative tasks and free them to work at the top of their license (or certification). Our team is able to assist providers by offering additional hands to grow their cardiovascular rehabilitation program, and brainstorm resolutions to challenges both inside and outside of the brick and mortar setting. We can do these things and more in partnership with providers – by combining their expertise in facility-based care with our expertise as a provider of virtual cardiac rehab solutions. Together, we can provide the best patient-partnered care possible to a larger audience of patients.

Heart disease is a “forever” diagnosis – and each heart patient will have different day-to-day worries, challenges, and aspirations. To truly provide personalized cardiac care, we have to listen to patients, partner with them to adapt our program to their individual needs, and work together to create a lifelong heart healthy journey. To do otherwise would be to optimize for the clinical data, not the human being.