The Reservoir Advocacy & Alliance Network (RAAN) recently convened its diverse experts and seasoned strategic partners for a discussion on the emerging importance of patients-centered approaches to health care and their role in closing health disparities.
Patients-centricity revolves around the core belief that patients are not uniform. They face unique and diverse obstacles and challenges, which cannot be addressed through a “one-size-fits-all" approach. Improving health outcomes requires a deep understanding of distinct medical conditions, experiences, needs, and priorities.
During the convening, the RAAN discussed ways in which patients-centered care can be leveraged to improve outcomes for all patients, as well as ways in which the need for patients-centered care has become apparent within their own work. Read key takeaways from the conversation below.
1) Increasing Diversity and Improving Patient Outcomes Go Hand-in-Hand
RAAN members discussed the importance of diversity across the health care continuum, noting that patients must see their diversity reflected in their providers, advocates, and leaders. “You can’t think of patients as a monolithic group. There needs to be a lot of thought given to how health care is delivered,” one member said. Several RAAN members touched on the importance of patients-centricity in their own communities, such as the American Indian/Alaska Native and caregiver communities, noting how centering the specific needs of this group has led to improved health outcomes.
Another RAAN member touched on the importance of prioritizing patients-centricity in health care as early as the research stage. “If the goal is more personalized medicine — which it is — researchers must be able to understand all of us, not just some of us. That includes not just representation in research, but also representation in researchers,” they noted. By increasing diversity, patient-provider relationships are also strengthened, and trust is bolstered across the health care system more broadly.
2) Patients Must Be Connected to Policy Decisions
Members also discussed the paramount need to center policy decisions around patients and their lived experiences. By seeking feedback from people of different backgrounds and identities, policymakers are better equipped to shape policies that address specific needs. “The policies that patients look for are the ones that protect them,” noted a participant, such as those that enable access to life-saving vaccines or others that recognize the social determinants of health as key drivers of health inequities.
Grappling with patients-centricity? Reach out to Chrystine Zacherau or another member of the Reservoir team.