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Whole-person care is a patient-centric approach to healthcare intended to address patient needs holistically by taking into account physical, behavioral, emotional, social, and environmental factors.  The whole-person care model integrates primary care, behavioral health, and social services, in one place. Built on the values of integrated care, this care approach recognizes that health outcomes depend on the complex interrelationship of a patient’s physical, psychosocial, spiritual, and socioeconomic status in determining overall wellness.

Key components of whole-person care

From a clinical informatics perspective, interoperability and population health represent key components of the whole-person care model. Seamless interoperability helps to open the doors to make whole-person care a reality. It allows your organization to work collaboratively and effectively with other caregivers within the community. Data sharing is essential to helping providers meet patient needs and achieve optimal outcomes. Population health solutions are also crucial. A population health tool allows you to gather and analyze patient data from multiple sources and deliver actionable insights and interventions at the point of care.

Benefits of providing whole-person care

Whole-person care has several benefits:

  • Strategic alignment between your organization’s clinical and operational leadership
  • Common intake, assessment, and care planning processes for patients served by behavioral and primary care components of your organization
  • Coordinated measures for assessing clinical, operational, and financial performance
  • Clarity of role function and responsibilities among your care team
  • Improved hand-offs and internal program referrals
  • Improved patient experience and increased patient satisfaction
  • Fewer missed appointments and no-shows
  • Improved clarity of roles, coordination of care, and provider satisfaction
  • Improved health outcomes for patients

Eliminating the traditional silos between medical care, behavioral health, and social services promotes better patient care and improved outcomes. In a whole-person care system, patients who see their primary care provider for an annual wellness visit can also discuss their behavioral health needs in the same visit. In this model, the care team can review assessments, treatment plans, medications, and other patient needs in real time to develop an integrated approach, informed by a holistic view of the patient’s situation. Separate appointments spread over time by providers who may not be in communication or coordination with each other will inherently create inefficiencies in patient care and sub-optimal outcomes. Whole-person care aims to address these deficiencies in traditional models of patient care.

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John Ellis, DO

Vice President of Regulatory & Clinical Affairs at NextGen Healthcare

Dr. Ellis is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who serves as the Vice President of the Regulatory & Clinical Affairs team at NextGen Healthcare. His previous experience includes working as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and serving as the Chairman of the Family Medicine Department at Arrowhead Abrazo Community Hospital. Dr. Ellis founded his own family medicine practice in Arizona and has been using EHR’s since 2003.