Keep Up to Date with the Person-Centered Care Certification Program

Person-Centered Care Certification Program Redesign

The Person-Centered Care Certification Program is being re-designed – with you in mind!

  • A consolidated, re-organized set of criteria has been collaboratively developed to help organizations narrow in on the most high leverage changes that will accelerate efforts to create and sustain a culture of person-centered care.
  • The evaluation process is being revamped to make it more transparent and easier to understand how your performance against each criterion is being assessed.
  • The recognition tiers are being re-defined to expand opportunities for organizations to earn recognition for their progress.

All of these changes are being introduced based on emerging evidence, participant feedback and input from patient and family partners. This effort signals the most significant improvement effort since the program’s launch more than a decade ago. What remains the same, however, are the objectives for the program, which continue to guide every decision and improvement effort. These objectives are to:

  • To define the key elements necessary to implement and sustain organizational cultures of person-centered care;
  • Establish person-centered excellence as a definable goal that can be set, tracked and achieved;
  • Provide a concrete framework for implementation;
  • Provide external validation and recognition that differentiates healthcare organizations demonstrating superior levels of achievement in person-centered care.

From Patient-Centered Designation to Person-Centered Certification

Among the changes being introduced as part of the program redesign is a renaming of the program from the Patient-Centered Designation Program to the Person-Centered Care Certification Program.

Why Person-Centered?

This fairly subtle shift in terminology from “patient-centered” to “person-centered” is in line with an approach to healthcare that treats individuals as more than a sum of their body parts and medical conditions.

When it comes to how individuals view themselves and how they want to be viewed by others, rarely is “patient” the primary definer of their identity. They are multi-dimensional human beings, whose care should be provided in a holistic may to address their full range of their needs, preferences and experiences. In other words, it is an approach that focuses on the person first.

Furthermore, to truly promote health, wellness and holistic care, we must look beyond an individual’s health history and their list of complaints and symptoms to consider their experiences outside of the healthcare delivery system. Better understanding the social determinants of an individual’s health is an integral component of person-centered care.

Finally, adoption of this terminology better captures the inclusiveness of person-centered care. A person-centered culture is not built solely around the patient experience and the needs and preferences of patients, but also must address the experiences and needs of family members, as well as of healthcare professionals.


Why Certification?

The program has been restructured as a certification program to minimize confusion in the marketplace created by Planetree’s previous use of the term designation, which was not widely understood. The term certification is more universally recognized for the kind of structured, standards-based quality improvement framework that this program provides.


About the New Criteria

The revised criteria reflect considerable input from many stakeholder groups, including patient and family partners, healthcare executives, practitioners and other personnel, quality organizations, policy makers and accrediting bodies around the world to influence how person-centered excellence is defined. The revision process included a call for public comment, held earlier this year, to obtain feedback and broad stakeholder input into the advancement of the Person-Centered Designation criteria.


The revised set includes 26 criteria across five drivers:

  • Create organizational structures that promote engagement

  • Connect values, strategies and actions

  • Implement practices and promote partnership

  • Know what matters

  • Use evidence to drive improvement.

Enhancements to Evaluation

Significant changes to the validation process are being designed to make it more transparent and easier to understand how your performance against each criterion is being assessed. Elements will include:

  • Measurable elements as indicators of how, specifically, the site will be measured or rated on each criterion.

  • Numerical points associated with each measurable element to consistently measure achievement.

  • An evaluation system that continues to most heavily weight evidence derived from the “lived experience” (e.g., focus groups, observation, discussion, etc.).

  • Defined scoring ranges for each recognition tier.  These ranges will be allocated to both maintain a high bar for the award of Gold Certification, while also making the intermediate recognition tiers more accessible.


Timeline for Change

Transition to New Program in the United States: The new criteria and modifications to the evaluation process, including transition to a new on-line self-assessment tool, will take effect in the United States on January 1, 2018.

Transition to New Program Outside of the United States: The new criteria and modifications to the evaluation process, including transition to a new on-line self-assessment tool, will take effect outside of the United States on January 1, 2019.
However, all sites have the option to use the new criteria earlier than that if they choose to do so.

Sites outside of the United States that will be applying prior to January 1, 2019 can download the to-be-retired criteria and self-assessment tool here.

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