Key Concept: Person-Centered Care

According to the Institute of Medicine, person-centered care (also often referred to as patient-centered care) is defined as “providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.[1] In short, person-centered care goes beyond the traditional patient-provider relationship by engaging the patient as an active participant in health care and aims to provide care in the best interest of the person receiving it.

Person-centered care in oral health care has been associated with many positive outcomes, including better chronic oral disease treatment and management, improved safety, and cost containment.[2] Because person-centered care is based on collaborative decision-making—between the person receiving care and the family caregivers, dentists, physicians, physician assistants, nurses, and other health care providers—practicing interprofessional collaboration is important for your organization, too.

The resources listed below can help your organization learn more about delivering person-centered care in oral health programs for older adults.

  • Patient-Centered Primary Care Training Programs – The Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative has organized a searchable online database with almost 100 training programs that support health professionals “in their efforts to deliver primary care that is patient-centered and collaborative across disciplines.” The database allows you to search by the “Oral Health” profession.
  • Oral Health Integration in the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Environment (PDF) – Commissioned by the Funders Oral Health Policy Group with additional funding from the REACH Healthcare Foundation, Qualis Health developed a white paper presenting background information on the new person-centered model of care delivery. Included are case studies and lessons learned from clinics and neighborhood organizations that have attempted to collaborate and provide care across medical professions.
  • Patient-Centered Care Policy Brief (PDF) – The Pediatric Oral Health Research & Policy Center produced a brief that outlines five core principles to consider in a patient- or family-centered approach to oral health care. Many of the case studies, as well as the section on health information technology, apply to older adults.

[1]Institute of Medicine (2001). Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century. Retrieved from
[2]Dental Quality Alliance Conference 2013. Chris Smiley, DDS: The Importance of Patient-Centered Care. Retrieved from