Sharing management with the patient

The RACGP definition of general practice places ‘patient-centredness’ at the top of the characteristics that define the discipline.

Patient-centred care may be most commonly understood for what it is not – doctor-centred, hospital-centred, disease-centred, technology-centred. In its simplest definition, patient-centred care is about sharing the management of an illness between the patient and doctor. 

The following three elements are important:

1) communication with patients

2) partnerships

3) a focus beyond specific conditions, on health promotion and healthy lifestyles. 

There is some evidence that patient-centred approaches can increase patient satisfaction, engagement and task orientation; reduce anxiety; improve quality of life; and increase doctor satisfaction.

What patient-centred care actually means and how it is implemented can be challenging for many doctors.