Landmark review delivers practical guidance for person-centred healthcare

Landmark review delivers practical guidance for person-centred healthcare


The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care works with patients, clinicians, health services and policy makers to improve safety and quality in healthcare. This includes developing the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards and supporting their implementation.

The Commission wanted insights to help healthcare organisations embed person-centred care

Person-centred care is an approach to healthcare that focuses on the needs of patients and their families and carers. It encapsulates respectful and responsive care, underpinned by meaningful partnerships with consumers. It has been linked to improvements in quality and safety, patient outcomes and the staff experience; and lower cost. However, our health system frequently fails to deliver person-centred care. As the body tasked with leading national improvements in quality and safety, the Commission engaged Nous to identify the key attributes that hospitals and health services need to embed person-centred care.

Working with the team at Nous was a pleasure. The team was organised and proactive, providing strategic and nuanced advice on a complex national policy issue. The research and analysis Nous undertook for the Commission was presented within an elegant framework that continues to provide a strong foundation for the Commission’s ongoing communication to the healthcare system about a person-centred approach to healthcare.

Naomi Poole

Director, Partnering with Consumers, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

We identified shared attributes of high-performing health services in Australia and abroad


  1. identified common attributes of international organisations that excel in person-centred care
  2. studied public, private, regional and metropolitan organisations in Australia, North America and Europe; drawing on our UK office and US-based associates
  3. met with people in leadership, clinical and corporate teams to understand drivers of person-centred care in various contexts
  4. used an organisational framework to analyse every area of an organisation; including strategy, leadership and people, governance, technology and reporting.

This led us to identify seven attributes of person-centred care:

The seven attributes of person-centred care

We helped healthcare providers understand where to target improvement

The Commission’s report provides healthcare leaders with a practical framework to inform improvement across their organisations, through person-centred initiatives such as:

  • reviewing and improving hospital models of care
  • guiding organisational transformation
  • developing person-centred leaders and champions
  • fostering person-centred governance structures
  • developing new partnerships across the local health service system.

The Commission has published the report along with a set of factsheets, self-assessment tools and other resources for healthcare organisations. Together, these resources are helping healthcare organisations make transformative change to achieve excellence in person-centred care.

What you can learn from this review

  • There is no set formula, but an organisation-wide approach is essential. Person-centred care manifests differently in each organisation, but all attributes are important for improving care.
  • Person-centred care does not require significant resources. Some of the highest performing organisations identified in this review operated with limited budgets but strong support from leaders and staff.
  • Leaders at all levels are critical to drive change. A growing body of evidence shows a strong link between leadership and staff engagement, patient outcomes and overall performance at healthcare organisations.