Picker Institute: NRC Health’s Human Understanding Philosophy embodies the Picker Institute’s principles of patient-centered care

With the complexity and demands associated with healthcare delivery, seeing the whole picture is crucial. NRC Health’s end-to-end Human Understanding Program is designed to help hospitals and health systems capture and act on what matters most to each patient and their family.

In building this program focused on humanizing care, NRC Health has integrated the Picker Institute’s Eight Principles of Person-Centered Care to foster a patient-driven approach. The Picker Institute’s principles continue to be a cornerstone of NRC Health’s operations and provide a framework for assessing and measuring quality of care through the eyes of each patient. By incorporating the Picker Institute’s principles into its survey design, NRC Health supports its healthcare partners in ensuring the surveys accurately reflect the patient experience.

Those same Picker Institute principles serve as a guide when NRC Health consults with health systems, conducts market research, develops patient experience solutions, and tests innovative technology to better understand the needs, wants, and preferences of every individual before, during, after, and beyond the clinical encounter.

NRC Health’s educational events and resources for care teams also incorporate The Picker Institute’s person-centered approach to ensure healthcare teams have opportunities to enhance their understanding of patient-centered care, develop necessary skills to deliver this care, and improve the overall quality of care they provide.

Both Human Understanding and the Picker Institute’s Eight Principles of Person-Centered Care address the holistic needs of individuals to achieve the best outcomes:

  1. Fast access to reliable healthcare advice. Access to the right services at the right time is essential for high-quality care that meets individual needs. This includes ease of scheduling appointments, minimal waiting for referrals or treatment, and availability of appropriate professionals and advice. Human Understanding comes into play when providers recognize the importance of how every moment shapes the experience for patients and families. Offering timely feedback is important—whether someone is waiting to be seen or waiting for a critical test result. Human Understanding isn’t something you do; it’s a mindset at every touchpoint.
  2. Effective treatment by trusted professionals. Positive therapeutic relationships are the heart of person-centered care. People should receive clinically appropriate and effective care that meets their needs and respects their preferences, and interactions with care professionals should inspire a sense of confidence and trust. When healthcare organizations measure whether a provider shows care and concern, takes interest in ideas, and treats a patient with respect, they are upholding the values of Human Understanding. In doing so, organizations can drive loyalty and equity by making each of their patients and their family members feel seen, heard, and respected as people.
  3. Continuity of care and smooth transitions. Care journeys bring people into contact with a range of providers and staff. Ensuring seamless transitions is vital to delivering a person-centered, coordinated care effort. All people should experience continuity in the information they receive, their relationships with staff, and the ways in which their care is managed. Human Understanding gives care teams the ability to go deeper—directly to the individual patient, where it matters most—at their point of care; it’s shown in the delivery of real and relevant information, one patient at a time, and in an approach, that’s properly integrated into the clinical workflow.
  4. Involvement and support for family and careers. Providers and staff must acknowledge the importance of people’s families, careers, friends, and wider support networks in their overall health and well-being and encourage their involvement. The emotional impact of caring responsibilities should not be underestimated: people need to feel supported throughout and beyond the care experience. To that end, Human Understanding must extend to a patient’s immediate and extended family, and to the real-life aspects of everyday care and everyday life.
  5. Clear information, communication, and support for self-care. People using healthcare services should receive reliable, high-quality, and accessible information at every stage of their care journey. Information should be provided at appropriate times and in understandable ways and should support people to make informed decisions in managing their own care. Accordingly, Human Understanding takes a much broader view than is restricted to clinical care alone. The traditional approach only measures an experience after an encounter, but focusing on the entire consumer experience is important; working together to gather feedback before an encounter happens allows organizations to take a proactive approach, ensuring the patient is supported at each step.
  6. Involvement in decisions and respect for preferences. Patients have the right to be involved in and make their own healthcare decisions. Recognizing this, providers should work with them in equal, reciprocal partnerships and respect their choices and preferences—including those that reflect their background social and cultural values. Providing person-centered care is about more than putting a tagline on a billboard or website. Human Understanding starts with the consistent behavior of providers asking, listening, responding, and elevating technology to humanize care by discovering what truly matters to patients.
  7. Emotional support, empathy, and respect. Person-centered care demands a caring and holistic approach, and people providing such care should show empathy and respect, recognizing an individual’s emotional needs. For care to be compassionate, it must be delivered with respect, sensitivity, and appreciation of the person as an individual. Human Understanding begins with connection, which is about seeing patients as people and showing it—because personal connections help build rapport and relationships over time. Listening and building a partnership can encourage trust; empathy is a line of continuity through connection, listening, and partnership, and helps providers better validate patients’ emotions, progress, and challenges.
  8. Attention to physical and environmental needs. People deserve to be treated and cared for in a safe, comfortable environment that affords them privacy and dignity. Similarly, care professionals should be mindful of people’s physical needs—including pain management, assistance with activities, and personal care. Patients want providers to demonstrate Human Understanding in each encounter with them—to connect, listen, and partner—which is important on both sides of the stethoscope. Studies show that people who feel they were treated as unique in their care experience are 295% more likely to rate an organization as excellent overall.

Central to NRC Health’s approach and the Picker Institute’s principles alike is the belief that everyone deserves high-quality care and that using Human Understanding to appreciate each person’s needs and preferences is integral to the future of healthcare success.