Embracing Human-Centered Care: A Paradigm Shift in Healthcare

By | February 26, 2024

In our continual pursuit of delivering enhanced value to those we serve; we are embarking on a transformative journey. One that shifts our approach from a solely physiologic model to one more rooted in understanding human conditions and behavioral economics. Rather than solely educating individuals on their disease states, our focus now lies in activating and engaging them within the context of their daily lives.

An example of this shift was addressed in the ADAPT Randomized Clinical Trial. This trial, conducted by DB Bekelman and colleagues was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  revealed that a virtual ambulatory palliative care model, spearheaded by a nurse and social worker, significantly improved quality of life and alleviated symptoms of depression and anxiety. What set this intervention apart was its emphasis on communication and motivational interviewing, dedicating a substantial portion of time to understanding the patient’s coping mechanisms and individual needs rather than merely addressing symptom management.

Of the 8 hours spent in the study, 5 hours were devoted to fostering meaningful connections and providing psychological support. The interventions were carried out entirely through phone calls, demonstrating that impactful care transcends traditional in-person visits.

What truly distinguishes this approach is its human-centric nature, prioritizing the persons psychological and social aspects over purely clinical considerations. Despite the involvement of highly trained clinicians, the success of the intervention hinged more on understanding the human component of the illness rather than clinical expertise on its own.

Furthermore, the scalability of this model is a game-changer. While the trial utilized licensed professionals, the essence of the intervention doesn’t necessitate their level of licensure, which opens doors for a more scalable and accessible healthcare workforce. This scalability is vital in ensuring that interventions proven to enhance patient-reported outcomes can reach a wider audience.

Even more impactful is that this approach isn’t confined to one specific disease states or complex comorbidities. By focusing on activating and engaging individuals in their healthcare journey, we can effectively address the many underlying dis-eases of life, thereby fostering meaningful improvements in overall health and well-being.

As we reflect on our practices, it’s imperative to question whether our intervention methods align with the needs of those we serve. Rather than adhering rigidly to a disease-based model, let us continue to embrace and influence the paradigm shifts to human-centered care. By harnessing the insights of behavioral sciences and understanding how individuals interact and respond to their circumstances, we can empower them to take charge of their health journey.

In essence, our journey towards improved healthcare outcomes begins with recognizing the inherent humanity within each patient and tailoring our interventions accordingly. This shift from disease-centered to human-centered care marks a pivotal moment in healthcare that holds the promise of transforming lives and reshaping the future of medicine.