Patient-centered care is the mantra of the movement to reform the nation’s healthcare delivery system. According to this credo, patients must be able to obtain copies of their medical records and visit summaries; they should have personal health records that they can share with their providers; they should have “patient-centered medical homes”; they should share in medical decision making; and, of course, the security and privacy of their personal health information must be rigorously protected.
All of this makes sense, both for the individual and for the healthcare system. Since about 90 percent of healthcare is self care, consumers must be involved–and must, in some cases, change their health behavior–to become healthier and reduce the overall cost of care. “Patient engagement” is also a key component of accountable care organizations, because ACOs’ success depends on keeping patients healthy and out of expensive care settings. Only by educating patients and enlisting their cooperation can ACOs generate savings and remain within their budgets.