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American College of Physicians releases principles to guide patient partnership in health care

New ACP position paper details how patient-centered care can improve outcomes

Philadelphia, November 27, 2018 – In a new position paper published today in Annals of Internal Medicine, the American College of Physicians (ACP) has released a set of principles that aims to solidify the role of patients and families in their care plans.

In “Principles for Patient and Family Partnership in Care,” ACP cites increasing evidence that patient and family partnership in care can improve health outcomes, practice efficiency, and patient and professional satisfaction. Patient- and family-centered strategies have been shown to lower utilization of health care resources, result in fewer referrals and diagnostic testing, and reduce health care costs.

Active partnership with patients and families in their care and at the system level can improve safety and reduce harm. One study found that patients who actively participated in care were more likely to report problems with filling prescriptions, drug effectiveness, and medication-related symptoms. ACP's High Value Care initiative aims to improve health, avoid harms, and eliminate wasteful practices.

“ACP’s principles position patients and their families in their rightful place at the center of care in partnership with their health care team with the goal of improving outcomes and satisfaction,” said ACP President Dr. Ana María López. “This partnership is critical for our rapidly changing health care system to be effective.”

ACP’s principles for patient and family partnership in care, based on a comprehensive literature review and a multi-stakeholder vetting process, are:

  • Patients and families should be treated with dignity and respect.
  • Patients and families should be active partners in all aspects of their care.
  • Patients and families should contribute to the development and improvement of health care systems.
  • Patients and families should be partners in the education of health care professionals.

The paper outlines recommendations for how to implement each principle in daily practice such as using language that the patient can understand, developing a shared agenda for visits, and including patients and families in quality improvement activities. A related ACP toolkit provides practical resources to help physicians implement ACP’s principles for patient and family partnership in care in their practice.

In the paper, ACP uses the definition of patient- and family-centered care put forth by the Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care’s (IPFCC): an approach to the planning, delivery, and evaluation of health care that is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among health care providers, patients, and families.

ACP also outlines challenges for how to effectively and practically engage with patients and families including competing organizational priorities, perceived time required to engage patients in shift reports and rounding discussions, training of clinicians for how to effectively engage patients, understanding what patient and family partnership means, and determining how to implement broad concepts, such as respect and dignity.

ACP Innovation Challenge 2019 is focused on fostering partnerships between physicians and patients. The innovation challenge is “Shark Tank”- styled competition at ACP’s Internal Medicine Meeting 2019, April 11 -13 in Philadelphia, where finalists will present their projects to a distinguished panel of judges in front of a live audience.

About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 154,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.