Patient-Centered and People-Centered Care: Background

Patient-Centered and People-Centered Care: Background

Numerous health care practitioners have recommended redirecting the modern healthcare system from the traditional doctor-centered and disease-centered approaches to one that is more focused on the patients, as well as the people and their communities. Nevertheless, these so-called patient-centered and people-centered approaches are changing the modern delivery of healthcare services and the roles and responsibilities of physicians or doctors, nurses, and other allied health professionals.

What is the Difference Between Patient-Centered and People-Centered Care? How Do They Differ from Doctor-Centered and Disease-Centered Approaches?

The following are concise and simplified definitions of terms:

• Doctor-Centered Care: Primarily involves the organization and operation of hospitals and healthcare facilities around physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals. It also focuses on the hierarchy within the organization, the specific roles and responsibilities of the practitioners, the authority of the physicians over their patients, and the welfare of different health care professionals.

• Disease-Centered Care: A specific approach to health services delivery that involves achieving similar desired outcomes for patients with the same medical condition. It also aims to develop and implement a standardized approach to tackling a particular condition. Disease-centered medicine is usually applicable to common diseases, as well as during outbreaks, epidemics, and pandemics.

• Patient-Centered Care: Primarily redefines patient-doctor relationship by taking into consideration the unique and specific needs of patients. Their specific health requirements and desired outcomes serve as the driving force behind all health care services. Furthermore, it promotes participatory medicine by providing patients complete control when it comes to their health decisions and choices.

• People-Centered Care: An approach focused on organizing health care services delivery around the people and their communities, especially their needs and expectations. It shares some overlaps with a patient-focused approach. However, it also aims to promote public health, improve access to health care, uplift the lives of families in a particular community, and address one of the dimensions of poverty.

Both the patient-centered and people-centered models of health care services delivery also promote the concept of participatory medicine. They also have some overlaps with personalized medicine. Through these models, patients and the communities are seen not as passive recipients of health services but active participants who work as partners alongside healthcare professionals.


  • De Bronkart, D. 2018. “The Patient’s Voice in the Emerging Era of Participatory Medicine. The International Journal of Psychiatry Medicine. 53(5-6): 350-360. DOI: 1177/0091217418791461
  • Greene, S. M., Tuzzio, L., and Cherkin, D. 2012. A Framework for Making Patient-centered Care Front and Center. The Permanente Journal. 16(3): 49-53
  • World Health Organization. 2020. “Health Systems Service Delivery.” Health Systems. The World Health Organization. Available online
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