What Is Patient-Centered Care? Definition and Benefits

Updated February 3, 2023

Patient-centered care ensures that patients are comfortable, satisfied and well-informed while receiving health care treatment. It encourages patients to be active participants in the decision-making process throughout the course of their recovery. If you're in the health care field and care for patients, learning what patient-centered care is can be useful.

In this article, we define what patient-centered care is, list the benefits of this caregiving approach, outline the elements of patient-centered care and discuss how to apply patient-centered care in various health care roles.

What is patient-centered care?

Patient-centered care involves treating patients with respect and empathy while supporting them in making decisions about their health and course of treatment. Typically, if a patient needs treatment, patient-centered care means making them aware of test results, diagnoses and potential outcomes of different treatments. Health care professionals involve patients throughout every step of treatment, including decisions on which treatments to use and which medicines to take.

Patient-centered care also involves family members in treatment plans, providing resources to the patient and letting patients control their treatment using the knowledge their doctors and nurses provide to them. Any health care professional who works with patients can use patient-centered care.

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Benefits of patient-centered care

Here are several benefits of using patient-centered care:

  • Increased patient satisfaction: Patients may feel that they have better support when you use patient-centered care practices. When you take time to listen to what your patients want and expect from their care, you can better meet their needs and increase their satisfaction.

  • Better reputation: If you use patient-centered care, you have the chance of enhancing your workplace's reputation in the health care network. Patients may give more positive reviews when they receive a high level of care at your facility.

  • Improved employee morale: Working with patient-centered care practices can improve employee morale since you have the chance to form a valuable connection with patients.

  • Reduced expenses: Providing a high quality of patient-centered care can also reduce expenses for your facility. Listening to the needs and expectations of patients may help you minimize mistakes, which can limit how much your facility needs to spend over time.

  • Effective health outcomes: Patient-centered care can result in better health outcomes for patients. When patients are well-cared for, it can reduce their stress levels, help them get more rest and improve their ability to communicate their needs to the health care team.

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Patient-centered care elements

Here are several elements involved in patient-centered care:


This element involves offering meaningful advice to patients and respecting their values and treatment preferences. Respect also involves supporting your patient to set health goals that you can help them achieve. You can show respect by listening to your patients' needs and preferences and honoring them when possible.

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To make your patients feel empowered, it's useful to coordinate their care based on which decisions they make. You can coordinate their medical care, support resources and medical staff based on their medical preferences. For example, if a patient chooses to take a certain medication, you can provide information to them that explains the side effects and benefits of the medicine.

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An essential part of patient-centered care is keeping patients informed and aware of their diagnoses and health progress. To do this, you can consult with patients routinely about their health status, potential outcomes and treatment plans. Remaining transparent regarding the state of their health can make patients feel more secure and trusting in health care employees. Additionally, coordinating communication between all members of a health care team can help you provide clear, consistent updates to patients.

Related: What Is a Patient Care Coordinator?


This element involves ensuring that a patient is comfortable while receiving health care. You can check their comfort by asking about their pain level, ensure their living facility is clean and assist with any daily living needs that may be difficult for them, like bathing and eating. Providing comfort can help patients rest, which can improve their health outcomes.

Related: 10 Ways To Advocate for Patients

Anxiety relief

Patient-centered care includes reducing a patient's stress levels. To ease any anxiety that patients may feel while receiving treatment, you can consult regularly about their mental health, discussing any concerns they have regarding their treatment, like their recovery time or the financial impact of treatment. You can also provide emotional support by offering them companionship, listening to their fears and concerns and validating their feelings.

Related: 11 Tips To Promote Empathy as a Health Care Professional

Communication with families

Health care professionals who use patient-centered care encourage family members to have a key role in treatment by visiting the patient in a health care facility, offering advice for decision-making and providing emotional support for their family member who's receiving treatment. You can optimize family communication by providing accommodations to them, like meals, privacy or comfortable seating. Inviting family members to advocate for their loved ones involves them in the treatment process and can help you provide personalized care for your patients.

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Providing resources to patients can help them remain informed of their health and aware of the assistance available to them once they're living independently. You may provide personalized resources to patients by evaluating what resources best meet your patients' individual needs. For example, a patient who has anxiety might benefit from receiving information about therapy resources.

Transition to independence

Health care professionals assist patients in transitioning to independent living by providing them with important medical information, like how to use medications, what dietary restrictions they need to follow and how to exercise safely. You may coordinate treatment programs for patients after they return home, like having a nurse visit their home routinely. You can also provide patients with information about programs that offer continuous support, like virtual care centers and 24/7 nurse call lines.

Applications for patient-centered care

Here are several career paths that use patient-centered care, with considerations for how to apply this method of care in each:

Physical therapist

Physical therapists focus on aiding a patient's recovery from an injury or illness while keeping them comfortable and secure. As a physical therapist, you can practice patient-centered care by consistently checking in with your patients to make sure their pain is tolerable and coordinating therapy techniques and stretches based on their treatment preferences. Once their physical therapy is complete, you can provide them with resources to continue maintaining their health, like annual physical therapy check-ups.

Related: 11 Pros and Cons of Being a Physical Therapist


Working in the nursing field means you use patient-centered care while working with patients receiving treatments. Your patient-centered duties may include ensuring the patient is comfortable at all times, administering medication in a way that's easiest for them and regularly communicating with the patient's family on their progress. You can also coordinate treatment plans with physicians based on the patient's preferences, like what time they like to eat or what exercises they prefer to do.


Physicians can use patient-centered care by treating illnesses according to their patient's choices. Since physicians typically see their patients to consult on preventative health care, you can ask your patient what techniques they prefer for health care maintenance, like diet, exercise or vitamins. Based on their preferences, you can offer recommendations and advice.

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Surgeons can consult with patients to determine a treatment plan. As a surgeon, you may offer information about different kinds of treatments to a patient and allow them to decide which they prefer. You can discuss the potential risks, benefits and outcomes of certain surgeries so that patients can make an informed decision.

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