Patient-centered Care - What it Means For You as a Patient

Almost daily I hear the concerns of patients who feel like they are not being listened to or heard by the healthcare practitioners that take care of them. All of us are familiar with the process of getting shuttled in, doled out a given regimen of care, and getting shuttled back out. It leaves you with that feeling of being a product on an assembly line, rather than someone being cared for. We all see this in every facet of medicine from chiropractic offices to conventional medical clinics. While this can be an effective way of running a business, it is not a good way of providing health care, as it ignores the patient’s feelings, values, and beliefs.


Patient-centered care is an ideal where we as healthcare providers value a patient’s feelings and beliefs in our clinical decision making process. We educate the patient as best we can regarding the condition they are suffering from, explain the treatments we recommend, and listen to a patient’s feelings or concerns about what we have explained. The patient is also encouraged to take part in the decision making process as to the direction of care, even though the healthcare provider will sway the direction of care if it is for the best interests of the health of the patient.


Patient-centered care also places an onus on the patients themselves to take responsibility for their own health and healing. That may be in the form of smoking cessation, lifestyle or dietary modification, or perhaps maintaining a regular home exercise plan. This form of patient empowerment helps foster as much independence from care with a healthcare provider as may be possible for a given condition.   


Ultimately, patient-centered care allows for patients to feel respected, involved, and subsequently better cared for. Not surprisingly, benefits from a patient-centered model include improved patient satisfaction, better adherence to a particular treatment plan, as well as better health outcomes from the care provided.1


So many chiropractic patients have been conditioned to show up, get "cracked," and come back again next week, without any direction to stay strong, flexible, and mobile in between. Or perhaps, in a conventional model, feeling sick the patient shows up to their local medical doctor, gets a prescription, then goes right back to poor lifestyle choices of smoking, eating poorly, and not exercising.


While many of us in the healthcare field are already providing patient-centered care, there are at least as many healthcare providers that aren’t. There is also still a large population of patients who continue to be entrenched in old models of disease-centered/ doctor-centered care, waiting for us to fix them when things are not working right, without taking responsibility for their own health. It will take all of us, healthcare providers and patients, to make a full shift from the current healthcare paradigm into a true patient-centered care model.


So, the next time you are in and I ask you what you are looking for in the care I am providing you, realize I am coaching you to take control of your health. I am working to help you heal and to empower you to live as well as you can, despite the conditions you may suffer from. I sincerely hope I can help you become as pain-free as possible and get you back to doing the things you want to do with your life as quickly as possible.


In good health,


Dr. Neely



1 – Stewart, M. Towards a Global Definition of Patient Centred Care. BMJ. 2001 February 24; 322(7284): 444–445.

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South Sound Pain Relief Clinic

2411 Pacific Ave SE, Flr 1

Olympia, WA 98501

Ph: 360-943-2940

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