Traveling Toward Patient-Centered Care

The Commission on Patient- and Family- Centered Care convened to lay the first steps in value-based care.


On February 12, 2016, thought leaders from across the country met for the inaugural meeting of the American College of Radiology’s (ACR) new Commission on Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC).

The concept of patient-centered medicine was introduced in 1969 and evolved into the term “patient-centered care“ in 1988. The concept of patient- and family-centered care has evolved over the years due in large part to advocacy work done by patients and families, as well as work done by U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop (who served from 1981 to 1889), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Association for the Care of Children’s Health, and other organizations.

In 2001, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century,” a landmark report that made recommendations for improving U.S. health care. The report spoke of the importance of patient-centered care, defined as “care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values, and ensures that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”

Moving ahead to 2016, patient and family voices are stronger than they have ever been. Defining quality and value for the patient’s care has been placed front and center in U.S. health care. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell has pledged that 30 percent of Medicare payments will be linked to quality and/or value by the end of 2016. Congress has mandated that health care professionals define value in treating patients by adopting the Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which will tie future reimbursement to the demonstration of health care quality. The ACR has been proactive throughout this process and has developed initiatives such as Imaging 3.0™, which supports radiologists in being patient centered, value based, consultative, outcomes focused, integral, and accountable. The ACR’s new Commission of Patient- and Family-Centered Care continues that work.

University Hospital, in Augusta, Ga., has been a pioneer in the area of patient- and family-centered care thanks to the innovative work of Pat Sodomka, former COO of Medical College of Georgia, and forward thinking physicians such as James V. Rawson MD, FACR, chair of radiology at Augusta University and chair of the ACR’s new Commission on Patient- and Family-Centered Care. Both recognized the importance of improving the care of their patients, and they have been recognized nationally for their work.

University Hospital frequently makes use of patient advisors during strategy and planning decisions of the medical center. Patient advisors are used in selecting health care professionals for the medical center, and patient advisors are used for infrastructure planning of the medical center. On the imaging side, Rawson used patient advisors to design a new mammography department that has been extremely well received by patients. Patient advisors were also instrumental in the construction of the new Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta.

One patient advisor stated that after the new children’s hospital was built, her son was no longer scared to go to the hospital. This is due in part to the patient-focused accommodations throughout. The children’s hospital has incorporated innovations such as sophisticated lighting that can be tailored to enhance the patient experience. The Children’s Hospital of Georgia is one of only a few hospitals in the country to have a kitten scanner (a small scale replica of a CT scanner) in the children’s waiting area. Children waiting for their CT scan put toy patients into the kitten scanner, which then scans the toy patients and shows the children the inside of the patient while telling them a story. Although the kitten scanner does not provide any direct reimbursement for the radiology department, it has significantly decreased the need to sedate many of their pediatric patients, which has improved patient care, increased the department’s throughput, and indirectly increased revenue.

These are important examples of how collaboration with patient advisors leads to innovation and improved patient care. ACR’s new Commission on Patient and Family Centered Care demonstrates how radiology is continuing to develop ways to provide the best care for their patients.

By Ian Weissman, DO, a member on the ACR’s new Commission on Patient- and Family-Centered Care

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