Person-Centred Care in Precision Health

Imagine Citizens Network (ICN) has started collaborating with the Cumming School of Medicine as they launch a new program called Precision Health[1]. The first course of the four streams launched this August.  The first course was designed as a Foundations block-week where all participants came together.  Central to the planning for that block week was the emphasis on patient-centred care, as a means of embedding a shift in thinking from the ‘expert’ model of health care to involvement of the patient as a partner in their care. To help achieve that, Ward Flemons, an ICN founder, reached out to Judy Birdsell, Board Chair of ICN and a small group of volunteers convened, and the partnership was born.

One of the first perspectives ICN brought to the table was a shift in language from “patient-centred” to “person-centred care” – a core concept to ICN as an organization.  The curriculum team for Precision Health willingly accommodated that shift away from ‘patient’ with its implied ‘otherness’ and division between those with expertise in medicine and the recipient of that expertise and care.  ICN reinforced that persons are SOMETIMES patients, but they are ALWAYS persons. ICN also emphasized that it is essential to respect the expertise that the person brings to a healthcare interaction, that of being an expert in their own bodies and how the disease, condition or concern impacts them personally.

Our involvement revolved around stories developed by real persons. Course participants were asked to think about their own interactions with the healthcare system and to reflect on the experience of a ‘patient’ versus a ‘person’ who was a patient at the time.  The dialogue that resulted was rich! 

Course participants broke into small discussion groups. They were asked to translate what they had heard from the ICN team and from each other into the work that they would be doing in their Precision Health stream.  Again, the debrief dialogue was thought provoking.  We ran out of time – again!

The feedback received from the curriculum team was very positive.  Course participants expressed their deep appreciation for the discussion and the perspective that the ICN team had brought to the first days of their program.  

Ward Flemons stated, “This session greatly increased the odds that coproduction of care will be a key take-away for participants from the Foundations course.”

Through this key partnership, ICN has taken another big step on the journey of influence and transformation of the culture of healthcare.


[1] Precision Health is a tiered initiative of the Cummings School of Medicine, launched in August  2021 with certificate programs in four streams:  Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Quality and Safety Leadership, Health Professions Education Leadership, and Precision Medicine.  After completion of the certificate, program participants may choose to progress through a graduate diploma, and then to a master’s degree in their chosen stream.   
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