Patient-Centered Care: Finding the “Holy Grail” — Peter Waziri

It’s been called the holy grail of health care. In recent years, patient-centered care has taken center stage as the solution for achieving a more efficient and cost-effective system, one that fully engages patients in their own care and produces better outcomes.

But is it an achievable goal? We asked Peter Waziri, a financial and health care executive who has been the architect of several transformative health care initiatives.

Peter, what is your definition of, and perspective on, patient-centered care?

It’s care delivered in a way that is organized around the patient’s experience and his or her values. It’s flexible and responds readily to evolving patient needs. Crucially, it also encourages patients to take ownership of and participate in their own care.

In my experience, patient-centered care works. I have witnessed providers form care teams around patients. Also, patients who participate in their own care show improved outcomes. They’re more likely to adopt healthier behaviors and follow their medication and treatment plans

It’s a concept that’s been met with some skepticism, however. Many have tried patient-centered models and have fallen short. I believe change goes through an evolutionary process where continued practice leads to better operations,

Why is the model so difficult to implement?

In my view, the entire health care industry is segmented. Our health care system is actually several separate systems: hospitals, payors, and pharmaceutical companies. We have not yet achieved a cohesive, well-coordinated whole.

A few health care systems have blazed a trail for what a patient-centric system can look like. Kaiser, for example, is an excellent model and has mastered the art of patient-centric information A major key for success is the availability and efficient use of data that drive results.

Another company that’s made inroads in patient-centered care is UnitedHealthGroup. Its Optum unit has succeeded in combining clinical and claims data for a holistic view of patient interactions within the health care system. In an effort to build a patient-centered ecosystem, Optum recently bought DaVita Medical Group, a primary care company, and has also acquired outpatient surgical centers. This integrated approach is surely the wave of the future.

As mentioned, the key to patient centricity is having a central data source that provides a single view of every patient to make the best decisions on the best outcomes. The question is, who makes these data-driven decisions?

Resistance to centralized data is palpable. Our American culture is based on individualism. No one wants to feel ‘Big Brother is watching’ us and making decisions for us, even if those decisions may deliver better health outcomes. Patients trust their doctors but not necessarily a collaborative community that shares their data, even if health information is being exchanged securely among authorized providers.

Again, we are a country that values the ‘f’ word: freedom. We need to do a better job in educating patients on the merits of sharing health information that can improve their health outcomes — while at the same time, assuring them of the security of their data and the protection of their rights to privacy.

Thank you, Peter, for your insights and inspiration.

*****

A financial and health care leader with a global perspective, Peter Waziri has deep experience across several industries. He currently provides financial leadership for Parkland Community Health Plan’s operational and clinical management functions. Previous positions include CFO at Umpqua Health and also at Cascade Comprehensive Care, along with management positions at GE Capital, Ernst & Young, PNC, KeyCorp, and the Institute of European Finance in Great Britain.

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!mpact Magazine is a platform where people with a vision can share their ideas and insights.