One of the chief goals of quality healthcare, as defined by the Institute of Medicine, is to provide patient-centered care. Doing so requires “providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions” (Institute of Medicine, 2001). As patients know, this kind of care doesn’t always happen. Providing patient-centered care requires effective communication and a trusting relationship. It also requires high-quality evidence regarding what forms of treatment are most likely to advance patients’ goals.
Emory has placed patient and family centered care at the top of the list of priorities and is taking important steps to make this happen. The Patient and Family Advisor program, for example, has created a way for patients and families to be “at the table” in important discussions about the way that care is delivered within our system. The clinicians at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center are active participants in helping to transform care at Emory and are committed to working with our patients to provide them with care that is most consistent with their goals. My colleague Dr. Cassimatis, for example, recently wrote on this blog a very helpful set of tips that will help patients to get the most out of their visit and ensure that their questions are answered. Emory cardiologists are committed to answering these questions and to working with patients and their family members to make decisions that are often complex.
Emory cardiologists are also actively conducting research to advance the mission of patient-centered care. Emory physicians are studying how our patients want us to communicate with them about research studies for which they might be eligible. Emory physicians are studying what information is most important to patients undergoing evaluation and treatment for severe heart failure. And Emory physicians are studying the role of new tools for communicating with patients about the risks and benefits of cardiac procedures. These are just a few examples of the ways that Emory physicians and researchers are helping to improve communication and facilitate the kind of trusting relationship that is essential to effective patient-centered care.
Because no decision can adequately reflect patients’ values without evidences, Emory doctors are also at the forefront of conducting clinical research studies that are essential to address many of the pressing problems that patients face. It is only through well-done research that we will have the information our current and future patients need to make decisions that are consistent with their goals.
In all of these ways, the clinicians at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center are committed to ensuring, and to helping other doctors ensure, that patients’ decisions match their values as much as possible.
If you have feedback or suggestions on how to improve patient-centered care at Emory Healthcare, please let us know by leaving a comment below. To make an appointment with an Emory cardiologist or cardiovascular specialist, please call 404-778-7777.
About Dr. Dickert
Neal Dickert, MD, PhD is Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology. He also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Epidemiology at the Rollins School of Public Health and is a senior faculty fellow at the Emory Center for Ethics. He also serves as associate program director for the cardiology fellowship program. Dr. Dickert received his MD from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and PhD from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Dickert is board-certified in cardiology and internal medicine. Clinically, Dr. Dickert practices in the Emory University Hospital and Atlanta VA Medical Center Cardiac Care Units. Dr. Dickert’s research focuses on ethical issues relevant to cardiology practice and clinical research.