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Health Care Reform
September 28, 2009

Patient-Centered Care: What Is the Best Measuring Stick?

Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(17):1551-1553. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.299

The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.—Sir William Osler

The concept of patient-centered care—that medical care providers should respect patients' preferences, wants, and needs; solicit patients' input into decisions; and customize treatment recommendations—is not new. However, advances in medical science and the increasing complexity of treatment options have made achieving patient-centered care both more difficult and more important. For a growing number of decisions, the best choice of treatment depends on patient preference, with patients needing to consider the potential benefits and harms of treatment within the context of their lives. This type of decision making demands integrating the best medical knowledge into patient care, supporting more active patient participation in care, and promoting systems of care that are responsive to patients' needs.

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