What does person-centred care mean in a clinical pharmacy setting?

Person-centred care is fully focused on individuals’ needs. The aim is to boost outcomes by encouraging positive, long-lasting engagements between clinicians and patients. The person-centred approach acknowledges that care can be more-effectively delivered by understanding how an individual’s beliefs and attitudes can affect their engagement with healthcare services and, ultimately, impact their health outcomes.

As Nina Barnett, Consultant Pharmacist & Visiting Professor at Kingston University, says, “By combining full personal understanding of our patients with in-depth clinical knowledge of prescribed medicines, pharmacists are in the ideal position to develop patient-centred care and make the best possible decisions.”

Tina Moen, PharmD, and General Manager for Micromedex at Merative, adds, “Essentially, person-centred pharmacy considers the benefits and risks of medications based on both clinical evidence and personal interaction with the patient. This can lead to a fuller picture of the patient preferences and desired outcome, such as whether medicines should be changed, and perhaps offering non-medical alternatives that will achieve equally positive results.”

Taking a considerate approach

While drugs may be mass-produced, each person’s circumstances are unique. Listening to patients and accommodating their personal challenges is crucial to ensuring health equity.

Nina Barnett offers two examples from recent experience, where the personal situation significantly impacted the clinical pathway.

“When consulting with one of my patients about their medicines, I asked how they were getting on with their medicines. They told me that they “hated pills” and yet I could see that they had been prescribed a large number of oral medications. I discussed the person’s thoughts about each medicine and it quickly became apparent that the dislike of pills related specifically to one tablet that they found hard to swallow. We discussed different formulations for that medicine and agreed on an alternative. This resolved the issue for them while supporting adherence for the remaining medicines.”
Nina Barnett continues, “In another case, of a non-English speaker, I saw on their medical records a note saying they couldn’t read English, and so labels were “helpfully” printed in their mother tongue. During consultation, it became clear that in fact the person was not able to read (words in any language) and I realised my mistaken assumption. I then worked with the person to devise a numbering system for the type, dose and frequency of each medicines, supporting them to follow the correct regimen easily and safely.”

In both examples, the person-centred approach ensured full understanding of their personal relationship to healthcare, uncovering resistance and challenges, and helping them to follow the clinical recommendations happily and positively.

Nina Barnett concludes, “As pharmacists, we have many different tools and techniques to evaluate medicines and prescribing practices, such as NHS Scotland and Scottish Government Polypharmacy Guidance, the STOPP-START method, and the Beers criteria. But it is only when we combine these tools with a meaningful, empathetic engagement with the people in our care that we can truly work towards the best possible healthcare outcomes.”

What clinical decision support tools are you using, and do they support person-centred care? Discover why healthcare organisations around the world rely on Micromedex to support their clinical decisions; check out the infographic on eight reasons to trust Micromedex.