Integrating Person-Centered Care and Evidence-Based Research at Hospitals Caring for Vulnerable Populations

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A new road map highlights how to overcome barriers to integrating person-centered care and evidence-based research at hospitals caring for vulnerable populations.

Historically, person-centered care and evidence-based research have not been well integrated into the hospital setting, but combining the 2 helps hospitals deliver the best care to patients. As such, America’s Essential Hospitals (AEH) used its research and education arm, Essential Hospitals Institute, to create a road map that integrates person-centered care and evidence-based research into hospital care for vulnerable patients.

The road map has been developed based on 3 advisory groups (a Patient Advisory Group,a Clinician Advisory Group, and a Chief Medical/Chief Quality Officer Advisory Group), a landscape review, a survey of America’s Essential Hospitals members, patient/caregiver interviews, and a deliberative summit hosted by the Essential Hospitals Institute and The MetroHealth System.

The research that informed the road map was conducted by the Essential Hospitals Institute and funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.


The direct benefits of integrating person-centered care and evidence-based research include supporting other hospital initiatives, such as meeting patient-centered medical home certification requirements or improving quality scores and shared savings for Medicare accountable care organizations. Indirectly, integrating the 2 can mean more positive patient engagement and happier healthcare consumers.

“Person-centered care engages patients and their families as active participants and decision-makers in their own care,” Bruce Siegel, MD, MPH, president and CEO of AEH, said in a statement. “This practice not only can improve care and outcomes at essential hospitals but also can raise the standard of care for providers across the country.”

The road map identified 3 strategies to help hospitals overcome barriers to implementing person-centered care and evidence-based research. They are:

  1. Establish a person-centered culture. This requires the involvement of hospital leadership, clinicians, patients, and families. Leaders can review organizational priorities, implement systemwide training, identify and foster champions, and establish patient and family advisor councils.
  2. Participate in evidence-based research. Such participation can engage patients and families in new ways and support shared decision making, as well as increase research in the field that includes underserved and underrepresented populations.
  3. Integrate person-centered care and evidence-based research into everyday practice. This can be accomplished by standardizing the use of both during patient visits, which empowers patients and caregivers, provides them with evidence-based information, and builds trust between the hospital and patients and caregivers.

The road map also includes examples of existing programs at essential hospitals such as Henry Ford Health System, Bon Secours Health System, and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

“The vulnerable populations that essential hospitals serve often are excluded from evidence-based research,” said Kalpana Ramiah, DrPH, the Institute’s director and the association’s vice president of innovation. “By prioritizing person-centered care, engaging patients as research partners, and using research findings in shared decision-making, essential hospitals can ensure that the patients, families, and communities they serve have representation and influence in evidence-based studies.”