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 Hillcrest Director Advocates for Person-Centered Care as Part of NQF Team

There is a thirst among providers of all backgrounds for guidance on how to implement person-centered care protocols in their daily work, according to Anna Fisher, PhD, director of education and quality, Hillcrest Health Services.

Fisher is a key advocate in the expanding area of person-centered care as the American Health Care Association’s representative on the National Quality Forum’s (NQF’s) collaboration initiative called the National Quality Partners (NQP) and its Advanced Illness Care Action Team.

The mission of the NQP is to improve health and health care through quality measurement by promoting opportunities for NQF members to work together to advance quality across the nation.

NQP most recently held a virtual forum on March 15 in which the group and several hundred listeners participated in a discussion about how measures can serve as a practical tool to improve person-centered care delivery across the spectrum of health care settings.

“This is all about person-centered care, regardless of the ailment and the comorbidity. It is about treating and caring for the person not just the disease,” Fisher says.

The meeting featured a case study of a 63-year-old woman with advanced lung cancer and how she moved through the care continuum with her condition, from inpatient and post-acute care to palliative and hospice care. The point of analyzing her care was to see how quality measures can address issues that are significant to the patient, in this case named Hazel, and her quality of life represented by care based on her personal preferences, values, and goals.

Fisher says person-centered care is one of the factors in an evidence- and consensus-based framework for generating positive clinical outcomes in long term and post-acute care, as developed by AHCA’s Building Prevention Into Every Day Practice Subcommittee.

The panel’s working definition of person-centered care identifies its primary purpose to be the support of individuals in living as satisfactory and fulfilling a life as possible, in the face of their illnesses and impairments. To do this, a provider must “be aware of each individual’s preferences, issues, and risks and tailor recommendations and actions accordingly.”

And to accomplish this, residents (and/or their families) are the ones who make choices and actively participate in their care planning, which is used as a foundation for everyday person-centered care. This will in turn allow for “competent clinical reasoning and effective diagnosis to facilitate truly individualized care by enabling interventions tailored to underlying causes,” according to the subcommittee.

Fisher says the importance of person-centered care in the long term and post-acute setting is seen in the sheer number of people who are living longer and many times with advanced illness. “Longevity of life continues to grow, and with that comes the risk of advanced illness that will result in impairment of their daily activities because of reduced mental and physical capabilities. And, with that comes a higher risk of death,” she says.

The question she is focused on is what providers can do to help those with advanced illness get the treatment and care they need and at the same time enjoy the highest quality of life possible, be it in the skilled nursing setting or under hospice care or anywhere along the care continuum.

“What I think we are learning is that person-centered care is about the preferences of that individual in response to the medical as well as the other components of care like functional, social, and emotional needs,” Fisher says. “It is much more of a holistic approach to that person’s care. We are still focused on the medical, but what we are doing is recognizing so much more in addition to the well-being of the patient to sustain that quality of life.”


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