In health care, we are humans taking care of humans. Health care systems exist to take care of patients, who have a singular need to get better from their illness. There is not one type of patient and there is no one type of health care system, and there is not any one way to place a patient at the center and deliver high-quality care.

This was high on my mind when serendipitously, one of the publishing editors from Springer approached me at IDWeek 2015 in San Diego to ask if I had a book idea in mind. I had just finished reviewing grants submitted to the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute under the category Improving Health Care Systems. I was blown away by the multitude of innovative ideas to improve care for patients as much as overwhelmed by a feeling why aren’t we doing this already. One of the best parts of being on that merit review panel was meeting a patient reviewer who was sitting next to me. It was sort of eye opening to hear perspectives of a patient stakeholder on the research proposals being discussed. Over dinner that evening, we connected over topics like living with mother-in-law and the emotionally tedious process of adopting a baby, both of which were our shared experiences in life. She became a natural co-editor for the book. Putting together the remaining editorial team was easy. I connected well with them, they were very supportive of me and this book project, and they had unique ideas and perspectives on the topic. All the co-editors and the chapter authors graciously offered their time and insights. The result is this wonderful book.

What does it really mean to deliver high-quality care? What does it mean to put the patient at the center of health care? The book discusses these questions in multiple dimensions and we hope you find this to be a high-quality book. Every author has universally challenged the reader to engage in and reflect more on the current issues in delivering care, and most of them sounded a call to action for patients, physicians, payors, healthcare administrators and policymakers.

Please do check out this book if you are curious about:

Voices:

  • What do patients mean by things being done to them, for them, or with them? How do we empower and engage patients and emplace the patient voice in health care delivery? What are the differences between satisfaction, engagement and involvement?
  • How have physicians’ perspectives evolved regarding interdisciplinary care? How do the physicians of the future work with/ compete with big data? What are some sources of burnout in the modern-day physician? How do physicians improve the value of care they provide?
  • What role do nurses play in improving health care quality and safety? What is happening nationally in the US to strengthen the nursing workforce and their role in quality improvement?

Current Landscape:

  • What does the current quality landscape look like? Why has the health care industry been reluctant to aggressively and transparently address the issues of quality and safety in health care?
  • What are the issues around access to affordable health insurance? Even for those with affordable insurance, what should we know about scope of medical benefits, coverage determinations, cost-sharing, and narrow-provider networks and how are they limiting?
  • What issues does a health care executive, particularly one with a career dedicated to provide care in academic safety-net health systems, encounter while aiming to provide high-quality care to everyone entrusted to their care? What do we mean by uncompensated care, “churn” and “EMTALA”?

Quality of Care in Greater Detail:

  • Can we provide high-quality care without addressing disparities? What are the efforts thus far to close gaps in health care outcomes for those on the unfortunate end of the scale on social determinants of health? How are large metropolitan areas responding to the problem of health care disparities?
  • How do health care systems identify and prevent mistakes from occurring while providing care? What can individual clinicians do prevent mistakes from occurring? How can the media help advance the cause of patient safety? How can patients become successful advocates? How can administrators, payors and policymakers “pull” in the same direction as patients and clinicians?
  • What is the spectrum of timeliness in health care? When do seconds matter? When do months matter? What is the impact of timeliness on care for patients? On clinicians? What is the relationship between access, timeliness and physician burnout? How can timeliness of care be improved?
  • What is the role of randomized-controlled trials and evidence-based guidelines in modern health care and what are some challenges? How is efficacy different from effectiveness? Why do we need to incorporate pragmatism in clinical trials and what is comparative effectiveness research? How do we as clinicians apply evidence-based medicine effectively in taking care of patients?
  • How efficient is current health care? What are some potential solutions and innovations in improving efficiency of care? What are some practical ways to improve efficiency?
  • How do health systems handle quality assurance of data? Why is data quality important?

Humans Taking Care of Humans:

  • What do we mean by shared decision-making? What does placing the patient at the center mean for decision-making? What is the spectrum of different patient preferences and ways shared decision-making is implemented? How do we as clinicians meet patient needs effectively?
  • How do the relationships between patients and physicians influence patient care? What exactly does relationship-centered care look like? How does the larger health care system influence the patient-physician relationship? How do physicians and patients achieve relationship-centered care together?
  • When are technical solutions alone insufficient? How do we engage everyone in improving health care? How do we address the “spaces” between people responsible for providing health care? What are the differences between simple, complicated and complex tasks? What is the role of communication and courage in improving health care by everyone and for everyone?

Hope you find the book thought-provoking and spurs you to take positive action! Please do let us know what you think. Our contact information is in the book.

Complete Title: The Patient and Health Care System: Perspectives on High-Quality Care. Pranavi V. Sreeramoju, Stephen G. Weber, Alexis A. Snyder, Lynne M. Kirk, William G. Reed, Beverly A. Hardy-Decuir. Editors. Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020 https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-46567-4

Chapter Authors (in addition to editors): Debra Albert, Sally Walton, Jessica Mantel, John Jay Shannon, Keith Kosel, Donna Persaud, Stephen J. Harder, Eugene S. Chu, Briget da Graca, Neil S. Fleming, David J. Ballard, Krista Hirschmann, Sheira Schlair, and Lucía Durá