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J Family Med Prim Care. 2018 May-Jun;7(3):487-488. doi: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_61_18.

What is in the name? Understanding terminologies of patient-centered, person-centered, and patient-directed care!

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President, Academy of Family Physicians of India, New Delhi, India.
Unit of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.


The traditional "medical model" of health care has a paternalistic approach where patients are reassured and not decision makers, but some individuals and families prefer it. But there are some other confusing terminologies in health-care delivery and quality improvement namely patient-centered, person-centered, and patient-directed care. By changing the language, it is emphasizing that people are more than diseases and their socioeconomic determinants can affect their disease trajectories and care choices. Patient-centered denotes more holism and empowerment as it promotes and increases the access to personal health information through various modes using updated technology such as computers or mobile phones and keeping them informed through their active participation. Whereas person-centered care would focus on the whole person not just the medical conditions. In patient-directed care model, again the approach puts individuals in control of decisions about their care. One of the reasons why family medicine fraternity sprang up was to provide an antidote for high-tech specialty care that did not respect patients' values and concerns which is seen by their emphasis on the patient as a whole.


Family Medicine; Healthcare delivery; Quality improvement; patient-centered; patient-directed care; person-centered

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