Background: The present study describes how primary care can be improved for patients with multimorbidity, based on the evaluation of a patient-centered care (PCC) improvement program designed to foster the eight PCC dimensions (patient preferences, information and education, access to care, physical comfort, coordination of care, continuity and transition, emotional support, and family and friends). This study characterizes the interventions implemented in practice as part of the PCC improvement program and describes the experiences of healthcare professionals and patients with the resulting PCC delivery.
Methods: This study employed a mixed-methods design. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine general practitioners and nurse practitioners from seven primary care practices in Noord-Brabant, the Netherlands, that participated in the program (which included interventions and workshops). The qualitative interview data were examined using thematic analysis. A longitudinal survey was conducted with 138 patients with multimorbidity from these practices to assess perceived improvements in PCC and its underlying dimensions. Paired sample t tests were performed to compare survey responses obtained at a 1-year interval corresponding to program implementation.
Results: The PCC improvement program is described, and themes necessary for PCC improvement according to healthcare professionals were generated [e.g. Aligning information to patients’ needs and backgrounds, adapting a coaching role]. PCC experiences of patients with multimorbidity improved significantly during the year in which the PCC interventions were implemented (t = 2.66, p = 0.005).
Conclusion: This study revealed how primary PCC can be improved for patients with multimorbidity. It emphasizes the importance of investing in PCC improvement programs to tailor care delivery to heterogenous patients with multimorbidity with diverse care needs. This study generates new perspectives on care delivery and highlights opportunities for its improvement according to the eight dimensions of PCC for patients with multimorbidity in a primary care setting.