Written by Allen Alvarez, Coordinator, Ethics Services, Ethics & diversity Services

How should we establish and maintain well-functioning interprofessional teams that provide patient-centered care? Find out the top 5 'ingredients' for success identified at our 11th Annual Ethics Conference.

We are committed to patient-centered care as the first of eight priorities of the B.C. health system. Health care professionals need to function well as a team to be able to provide patient-centered care. This can be achieved if health care providers nurture relationships with patients and with their colleagues. According to patient representative Michel White, who spoke at Fraser Health's 11th Annual Ethics Conference in April, health care providers need to understand, respect and treat patients as persons.

"I am a person not a condition," she said.

Michel White had a difficult but learning journey through the health care system. Seeking help for the various medical conditions she had and has, she has learned the importance of having physicians who listen and work with the patient as a member of their team. She also learned patients need to get past the initial awkwardness of getting to know health care providers so they can have meaningful conversations with them.

Once the working relationship with her health care provider was established, Michel described her doctor as "...an amazing physician who works with me, who helps me understand, who does things with me and for me, to help..."

The key to providing patient-centered care is providing relationship-centered care:

  • treat the patient as a person rather than a condition
  • listen to understand
  • work with the patient as part of the team

Hilary Pearson, David Kuhl and Linda MacNutt who also spoke at the conference echoed these points when exploring practical steps to providing patient-centered care. Relationship-centered care is what they identified as the way to build a well-functioning health care team. It's achieved by listening with empathy to:

  1. provide patient-centered care
  2. develop good relationships within the health care team

The importance of building and nurturing relationships to enable teams to provide authentic patient-centered care was affirmed by a poll of 291 conference participants. According to them, a team can function well to provide patient-centered care if they hold the top 5 values as a team:

  • trust
  • respect
  • support
  • collaboration
  • fun

To learn more about these ideas, watch Michel share her story and gain practical tools you can use to enhance your team, visit the Conference 2017 Resource Pages on FH Pulse. It contains a collection of videos and reading materials for you to use and share with your colleagues. 

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