Planetree Designation Creates a “Patients First” Organizational Culture

Posted on Oct 4, 2013

Planetree defines what it means to be patient-centered. Planetree was founded by a patient and continues to focus on its philosophy that care should be organized around the needs of patients. Planetree’s Designation Program is the only program to formally recognize excellence in patient- and person-centered care across the continuum of care. This is a structured, operational framework for evaluating the organizational systems and processes necessary to sustain organizational culture change.


Many healthcare organizations use the “patients first” marketing campaign to appeal to the frustrated healthcare patient. While this may seem like an intangible pursuit, Planetree’s Designation Program provides a structured program that uses both experienced-based and evidence-based criteria to provide a real “patient-centered” experience that is definable, attainable, and measurable.


Planetree’s Philosophy


For over 35 years, Planetree, together with providers across the continuum of care, have transformed organizational cultures to deliver health care that is putting the needs of individuals first.


Planetree is a non-profit organization that provides education and information in a collaborative community of healthcare organizations, facilitating efforts to create patient-centered care in healing environments.


Planetree’s goal is to create healing environments in which patients can be active participants and caregivers are enabled to thrive. From large, urban systems to small, critical access hospitals and long-term care communities, Planetree fosters exceptional patient-centered care for their members.


Planetree’s international membership is currently comprised of more than 500 organizations from eight countries.



Planetree Designation


Since 2009, specialists in evidence-based healthcare design following the Planetree philosophy and its core components of healing design.


The Planetree Designation Program is centered around 11 core dimensions of Patient-Centered Care and provides a structured, operational framework for evaluating the organizational systems and processes necessary to sustain organizational culture change.


The criteria address the depth and scope of what it really takes to implement and maintain a patient-centered culture from the patient and resident experience.


The criteria include: planning for structures and functions necessary for culture change, human interactions, healing environment, healthy communities, food and nutrition.



How to Become a Planetree Designated Site


To achieve designation as a Planetree Designated Patient-Centered Hospital, Planetree Designated Resident-Centered Community or a Planetree Designated Client-Centered Organization, an applicant site undergoes a rigorous and collaborative process to determine if its patient-centered activities effectively meet the goals of the designation criteria.


There are a few initial steps once an agency has decided to pursue the designation. First, the applicant conducts a self-assessment on the site and then submits written documentation to Planetree. Before advancing, it must be evident that the organization lives its commitment to patient/resident-centered care each and every day.


After the application, self-assessment tool, supporting documentation and application fee have been submitted; the application review and site visit is scheduled. Planetree schedules a thorough site visit after reviewing the self-assessment and application materials.


The site visit includes the following:

  • Observation of services
  • Facility walk-through
  • Focus groups with patients/residents and families
  • Focus groups with staff and organizational leadership
  • Patient/resident meetings
  • Staff meetings
  • Outcome measurement reviews


After the site visit, the committee provides a thorough review and suggestions are provided regarding the patient/resident-centered care. The report includes any necessary follow-up action needed before a designation determination can be made.  A committee of healthcare experts, inclusive of health care executives, nurse leaders, patient advocates and policy makers, makes the final determination on designation.


Planetree Designated Sites

You can review a more detailed summary of the designation requirements along with the current of Planetree Designated Sites by visiting their website: A few of the organizations include:

  • Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Columbia Memorial Hospital, Astoria, Oregon
  • Elmhurst Memorial Hospital, Elmhurst, Illinois
  • Northern Westchester Hospital, Mount Kisco, New York
  • Waverly Health Center, Waverly, Iowa


“This process has really helped us identify ways that we could improve and helped motivate us to address them in a timely, practical, and efficient manner.” Bryan Payne, Planetree Coordinator, Kadlec Regional Medical Center


Successful applicants are encouraged to promote their new designation to their employees, patients/residents and the local community. Planetree provides designated sites with promotional materials including press kits, letters to public officials, and guidelines for other promotional activities.



Getting Started


Download Planetree’s Self-Assessment Document


Detailed processes for achieving Planetree Designation are documented in the Designation Process Manual, available for purchase here:


If you are interested in learning more or applying for designation, contact Sara Guastello, Director of Designation and Resource Development at or (203) 732-7171.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *