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Turning Patient-Centeredness From Ideal to Real: Lessons From 2 Success Stories

Millenson, Michael L. BA; DiGioia, Anthony M. III MD; Greenhouse, Pamela K. MBA; Swieskowski, David MD, MBA

Journal of Ambulatory Care Management: October/December 2013 - Volume 36 - Issue 4 - p 319–334
doi: 10.1097/JAC.0b013e3182a3e76d
Original Articles

The Institute of Medicine's 2001 Crossing the Quality Chasm report established patient-centeredness as 1 of 6 core principles for health system redesign. Yet, turning aspiration into accomplishment has proven arduous. Patient-centered care has components that challenge established professional norms, and the term itself has not always been clearly defined. However, these barriers can be overcome using Rogers' principles of diffusion of innovation, as is shown by 2 case histories. One involves care at an urban academic medical center, the other outpatient care at multiple physician sites located in urban, suburban, and rural locations. At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Patient- and Family-Centered Care Methodology and Practice has become the new “operating system” in 60 clinical areas, using a 6-step approach to engage patients and families as codesigners of ideal care. Meanwhile, the Health Coach Program at Mercy Clinics, Inc, Des Moines, Iowa, has used a “high-tech/high-touch” combined approach to change the organizational culture through patient-centered initiatives. By doing so, it has put the organization in a position to accept risk for populations of patients. Importantly, both programs have been financially and clinically successful, are accepted by frontline physicians and senior management, and are nationally recognized. Common principles include physician leadership, comfort with uncertainty during innovation, organizational structures that send a consistent message about expectations, and quality improvement as a constant cycle with no end point.

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, (Mr Millenson); Health Quality Advisors, LLC, Highland Park, Illinois (Mr Millenson); The Bone and Joint Center, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC (Dr DiGioia) and The PFCC Innovation Center of UPMC (Dr DiGioia and Ms Greenhouse), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Mercy Medical Center, Des Moines, Iowa (Dr Swieskowski).

Correspondence: Michael L. Millenson, BA, Health Quality Advisors, LLC, 2735 Fort Sheridan Ave, Highland Park, IL 60035 (

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins