What is Patient-Centered Care?

The IOM (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."

Patient-centered care is about much more than simply educating patients about a diagnosis, potential treatment, or healthy behavior. It means that patients want guidance to be provided in the context of full and unbiased information about their options, benefits and risks.

“Patient-centered” also means considering patients’ cultural traditions, personal preferences and values, family situations, social circumstances and lifestyles.

The patient-centered approach includes viewing the patient as a unique person, rather than focusing strictly on the illness, building a therapeutic alliance based on the patient's and the provider's perspectives.

Patient-centered care is supported by good provider-patient communication so that patients' needs and wants are understood and addressed and patients understand and participate in their own care. This approach to care has been shown to improve patients' health and health care.


  • Patient-centered approaches to care have been shown to improve patients' health status. These approaches rely on building a provider-patient relationship, improving communication, fostering a positive atmosphere, and encouraging patients to actively participate in provider-patient interactions.
  • A patient-centered approach has been shown to lessen patients' symptom burden.
  • Patient-centered care encourages patients to comply with treatment regimens.
  • Patient-centered care can reduce the chance of misdiagnosis due to poor communication.

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