We place a great deal of emphasis and focus on attempting to design models of care and services that address the consumer’s wants and needs. We discuss the need for patient-reported outcomes and shifting our metrics to those that are more patient-focused, such as shared decision making. We include patient advocates in our discussions and involve patients in our design phases. We do all these tasks when contemplating about how to be the best provider.
Being a trusted partner is a consistent theme in caring for others. No matter the discussion or conversation, consumers/patients/providers all seek this level of interaction. However, this ideal is incredibly intricate. What does being a trusted partner mean? Depending on your lens, different answers come to mind. Since this goal can be viewed as a soft metric, having various meanings to people at different times, understanding what comprises the definition becomes paramount in our pursuit of success.
One definition might be, “I am here for you and will share with you what I believe is in your best interest.” Undoubtedly, I am truthful and, I believe I am acting as your partner as I hone in on your needs. However, since I have not focused on what your requirements are from your perspective, doing this could misfire. Rather than allowing you to state your problem, I have defined the issue. The definition of a partnership is how I help you succeed in your goals as you help me achieve my goals. For this concept to work, we must understand our mutual goals. Without doing so, how can either one of us be a bona fide partner?
Surveys have delved into this question of what defines a trusted partner. Interestingly, the results neither pertained to health issues nor soft skills we associate with trust. Navigating the matrix of healthcare and managing the associated costs were the two most significant factors found. Perhaps these are obvious, but in the past, we have not tied them to the concept of a trusted partner. We have viewed these activities as added value, not primal needs as defined by those we serve.
There are advantages to understanding these two deliverables. For instance, the physician needn’t be the lynchpin in providing information and direction needed to improve the desired outcomes. Using a team-based approach and automation can result in significant differences. Another pertains to delivering value. If we succeed at improving navigation and managing cost, we impact all three of the value equation variables simultaneously – enhancing quality as measured by the trusted partner metric, increasing service by making their healthcare navigation simpler, and lowering the cost of care.
As we migrate to care models that focus on patient-reported outcomes, and hold ourselves accountable for factors that are new to us, we need to increase our understanding of what drives improvement. Being cognizant of what these measures mean to those responding is a requirement. If we continue to strive for this level of engagement, not only will we increase the value to those we serve, we will also observe an increased level of activation, which is the desired result.