Patient Centered Care? Feeling sick


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There is a general movement towards patient centred care. You see the NHS talking about it in the UK. You hear it in the healthcare debate in the USA. It seems we have turned the tide and most people involved in healthcare conceptually agree that patient centered care not only provides better clinical outcomes, it provides better health cost management. At the core, patient centered care puts the patient and their caregivers (i.e., family, close friends) an integral part of the health care team where they collaborate with health care professionals in making their care decisions. It’s a team approach to care where the patient and their caregivers are central players on the team. In order for the patient centred team to function as intended requires that physicians, hospitals, insurers and perhaps even pharmaceutical companies listen to the patient. In this model , healthcare providers are not the boss. They are the coach perhaps, but not the boss. Everyone on the team is a valued member. If they are not, the team does not function and patient centred care becomes an impossibility.

Unfortunately, “feeling valued” is not one of the top emotions evoked by healthcare providers. Beyond Philosophy’s Q1 2010 Customer Experience Tracker asked healthcare consumers to identify the top three emotions evoked when dealing with health care providers. Given all the buzz and work on transforming towards patient centered care over the last decade, we expected to see “feeling valued” among the top 10 emotions. In fact, we were right. However, we learned that more important is the fact that three negative emotions (stressed, irritated, and disappointed) are ahead of valued. Feeling Valued is the only positive emotion in the top ten to be displaced by those negative emotions. This effect remains regardless of whether it’s the health insurer or pharmaceutical and even health care provider or hospital experience.

Not enough is being done in patient centered care to make “feeling valued” come to the fore in the experience. Patient centered care will not be a reality in the minds of healthcare consumer until they feel they are a valued part of the team. Two ideas that would help bridge the gap that currently exists are as follows:

  • Health care providers that are concerned with advancing patient cantered care should be asking their customers if they are being made to “feel valued “. This should be a standard question in ongoing customer insight work.
  • Carry out specific research to determine what the key drivers of “feeling valued” are. Often times the things that make an experience feel one way or another are subtle, almost invisible to the naked eye. We have found that “felling valued” may be evoked by actions as simple as sitting down to talk versus standing up. There are lots of these subconscious clues in the experience and they can leave the patient with the gut feeling that they are a valued member of their own healthcare team.


Check back nect week to catch the second half of the post written by Qaalfa Dibeehi & Kalina Janevska

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Qaalfa Dibeehi
Qaalfa Dibeehi is the author of "Achieving Customer Experience Excellence" and "Customer Experience Future Trends and Insights". He has 20+ years experience in the customer experience related space with particular emphasis on organisations that have a dual commercial and social/community responsibility. He is Non-Executive Director at Emerge. Previously, he was Chief Operating and Consulting Officer at Beyond Philosophy and Director at Fulcrum Analytics. He has an MBA from NYU and three other Masters Degrees from City U. of New York in Statistics, Psychology and Health Care Administration.


  1. You make some excellent points, and I couldn’t agree more. I would add that when it comes to patient care it’s helpful to understand human behavior so you can anticipate and uniquely engage different types of patients. In the late 90s David Keirsey laid out a set of human temperaments that link human behavior patterns to character types. The four temperaments are IDEALIST, GUARDIAN, RATIONAL and ARTISAN. The concept of Keirsey’s temperaments is a great way to illustrate how to engage patients in a way that makes them feel valued. Take for example a patient that has just discovered she needs an additional medical assessment.

    An IDEALIST, a bit of a rebel and non-conformist, will not respond well to a huge amount of information but instead just wants to know that her healthcare provider “respects her”; so a short email message thanking her for her business and being available for questions will work well.

    Meanwhile, the GUARDIAN, a great planner, if left too long to her own devices will transform the notion of a simple doctor’s appointment into a thought of potential doom. Therefore, before she gets carried away and simply doesn’t show up for her appointment – a timely series of simple advance voice and text messages offering assurance and information about what to expect will significantly increase the likelihood of her keeping the appointment.

    The ARTISAN, a great analyzer, works best if she is provided with a lot of relevant detail and information before a meeting. So a proactive email with links to a company website that features substantive and relevant data would increase the likelihood of an on-time appointment and the resulting desired health outcome.

    And finally the RATIONAL, a strong conceptualizer, needs to know what to expect at an appointment in a simple, factual and direct manner. So, a simple text or email with mostly informational and minimal “social” content and context will work well.

    By tailoring communications to these different temperaments, health care professionals can build stronger, long-lasting patient relationships. It’s human nature.

    Scott Zimmerman, Business Leader


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