This is an excellent question. To start, it’s important to examine what patient-centered care really means. As the catch-phrase “patient-centered care” is being used more and more frequently, let us make sure we are on the same page and that the underlying definition of the term isn’t getting lost in advertising rhetoric.
The Institute of Medicine defines patient-centered care as “Providing care that is respectful of, and responsive to, individual patient preferences, needs and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.” To us, this means that patient-centered care is about placing a primary importance of listening to, and involving, patients in their own care. Things that are an integral part of our practice are:
1. Physical comfort
A patient’s physical comfort has a significant impact on their treatment experience. For us, the most important aspects of physical comfort during oral surgery are anesthesia, pain management, and office environment. We make a point to always discuss pain management with patients directly and up-front. Patients should not have pain during a procedure.
2. Alleviation of anxiety
Addressing a patient’s fear and anxiety associated with medical procedures is just as important as considering their physical comfort. In our experience, discussing the physical, emotional, and financial impacts of a procedure go a long way towards alleviating anxiety and fear.
3. Information and patient education
While many health professionals seem to believe that keeping patients in the dark about their condition and prognosis is acceptable or even beneficial, we believe that patient education and information is essential. Our experience shows that patients who are well informed about their status and prognosis tend to feel empowered and experience less fear and worry. We encourage questions about procedures and treatment!
4. Continuity and assistance with transitions
This point goes hand-in-hand with number three, above. We make sure that our patients leave with detailed, clearly-understandable information about their healing process, including medication, dietary needs, and physical limitations. This allows patients to feel empowered regarding their own healing and recovery process, while coordinating with us for their future treatment needs. Once again, we encourage patients to contact us if they have any questions postoperatively.
While all of these points are extremely important our practice, and help us and our staff to ensure that we are meeting our patients’ needs, patient-centered care is really about creating a safe, personal relationship between doctor and patient. The key points of this relationship should be excellent communication and empathy, empowering patients to take an active role in their own treatment and healing, while simultaneously creating an atmosphere of comfort and understanding. When searching for an oral surgeon, ask your doctor about the points above. Please don’t hesitate to contact us directly at Tahoe Oral Surgery and Implant Center if you have any questions we can help you with.