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Health care’s ‘quiet crisis’

By Dr. Brita Hansen
From the February 2018 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

Value-based care is revealing a “quiet crisis” in health care today: the lack of capability enabling clinical teams to control, improve and standardize clinical processes in near real time.

Without timely process control and standardization systems and tools, clinical teams are challenged in the delivery of consistent, high-quality and reliability care. As a result, outcomes and financial performance suffer.

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Health systems allocate significant resources to standardization initiatives. But they are doing so by committing expensive staff resources to “one-off,” time-consuming processes of aggregating data housed in the electronic health record. Clinical leaders have no real mechanism for instant insights into the impact of individual process interventions on clinical practice patterns, leaving them in the dark as to which areas within the workflow require additional, or alternate, intervention.

Without those granular insights, it is also unlikely that any improvements resulting from the initial initiative will be scalable or sustainable, hindering efforts to replicate any successful actions.

EHRs’ role in standardization
EHR systems are a strategic asset for their ability to influence and, in some cases, drive standardized, high-value care. Yet EHR workflows and content often fail to align with clinical workflows, thereby hindering the potential to achieve and maintain standardized care. For example, when health care systems undertake process improvement initiatives, it is common to identify multiple conflicting, outdated or dormant order sets, which contribute to unnecessary care variations.

To overcome the challenges created by these care variations, providers must adopt a holistic approach that includes analyzing all workflow components with the potential to influence clinical processes, while eliminating areas within the EHR where discrepancies can occur. Preventing these issues requires the ability to easily access and see clinical processes and data. It also requires accounting for the individuals, technology and tools that support these processes and influence outcomes.

Integrating enterprise clinical process control and improvement solutions
Increasingly, health systems are leveraging enterprise clinical process control and improvement software to assist in the analysis, evaluation and management of clinical processes to fix what is broken and ensure appropriate standardization. By aggregating data related to EHR components, such as order sets, that support clinical processes, organizations are better able to evaluate all care delivery practices and determine where breakdowns leading to unnecessary variation occur.
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