Patient-centered approach just what the doctor ordered for healthcare industry

COLLEGE STATION, Oct. 7, 2003 - Anyone who's ever jumped through hoops just to schedule a doctor's appointment or been bounced around by one referral after another knows the healthcare system isn't exactly consumer friendly, but a Texas A&M University professor believes a patient-centered approach would make healthcare more effective and efficient for everyone involved.

Leonard Berry, who holds the rank of Distinguished Professor of Marketing in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M, has studied the healthcare industry and says that its future depends on a patient-centered approach. That means re-thinking how it does business.

"Patient-centered access warrants serious consideration given the stakes involved for patients, providers and payers," Berry says in an article appearing in the October 7 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

"Improving healthcare access is at the center of improving healthcare," Berry says.

Patient-centered access, Berry explains, refers to a patient's ability to secure appropriate and preferred medical assistance when and where it is needed. "Few concepts support all six of the Institute of Medicine's aims for the 21st Century: safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency and equitability. Patient-centered access is such a concept," Berry adds.

Implementing patient-centered access, Berry explains, requires embracing three principles: working at the high-end of expertise, aligning care with need and preference and serving when service is needed.

Working at the high-end of expertise is a departure from what goes on now in the industry, Berry notes. It means that specialist physicians should do less of what generalist physicians can do, generalist physicians should do less of what non-physician providers - such as nurses and physician's assistants - can do, and non physician providers should do less of what clinical staff can do. What's more, each caregiver should do less

Contact: Ryan A. Garcia
Texas A&M University

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