By Howard Willson
Consistency matters. Regardless of whether we are consciously aware of this, it is universally true. Consider, for example, Starbucks. When you visit Starbucks coffeehouse — whether in your home town, another city, or another country — you can trust that the flavor of a caramel latte, along with the entire buying experience, will be consistent. Think about that for a moment. Consistency across a buying purchase that is probably in the neighborhood of four dollars.
Now consider the medical care you or a loved one receive. Can you trust that you’ll receive the same level and consistency of care and expertise at your local health system as compared with the care received if you were on vacation and being treated at a facility in Miami, Winnipeg, or Honolulu? Considering the complexity of many healthcare visits, shouldn’t consistency be expected?
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In 2018, health system acquisitions and mergers jumped 14.4 percent over the previous year, a trend that is expected to continue as organizations seek to preserve market share and revenue. As health systems work to integrate new facilities, leaders cannot overlook the importance of establishing an environment that supports consistent patient care, regardless of the facility or physician.
One way that health system leaders can ensure that patients will be cared for in the same manner, regardless of who treats the patient or where the care is provided, is by supporting the use of evidence-based practices. By integrating evidence-based guidelines into clinician workflows, physicians are prompted to make point-of-care decisions that are supported by the latest reference (or “gold”) standard for high-quality care.
Adhering to evidence-based guidelines can aid health systems in producing a Starbucks-like level of consistency in care delivery and quality, which may boost brand loyalty, drive more consistent revenues, and minimize risks associated with the introduction of new facilities.
Why orient care around evidence-based standards?
A growing amount of evidence has shown that greater standardization of medical care improves clinical outcomes, patient safety, and, possibly, costs. Among the most effective ways health systems can boost standardization is to promote the use of evidence-based order sets and care plans. Evidence-based order sets and care plans guide providers to follow interventions that have been proven to drive the best outcomes and reduce unwarranted care variations that may compromise patient safety, waste staff time, and increase costs.