HealthNovember 09, 2017

How does standardizing care affect quality?

Can standardization and personalized care co-exist?

Which works best for your patients - using a standardized care plan or personalizing the plan for each individual? In most cases, it's a hybrid of both.

Healthcare’s perception of standardization varies by industry role. While administrators see standardized care as a way to achieve efficiency and quality, caregivers have historically viewed standardization as an administrative mandate that can sometimes go against their patients’ best interests.

Administrators, physicians, and nurses are beginning to realize they need to work together to improve the quality of care and reduce costs, and understand how standardization and personalization can actually complement each other.

A case for standardizing care

Studies show that variation in care, costs, and outcomes exists across hospitals, states, and regions. Advocates of standardized care tout how the industry uses evidence-based medicine in a systematic way to ensure patients receive high-quality care, while some critics think of it as quality“cookie-cutter medicine.”

Regionalized care is a necessary reality, but standardizing best practices is an important part of delivering effective, safe, and affordable care. There are numerous benefits to standardized care:

  • Consistent outcomes
  • Labor savings
  • Improved quality of care
  • Better documentation
  • Reduced waste
  • Improved efficiency
  • Improved patient safety
  • Reduced costs.

A case for personalization

Advocates of personalization don’t want to see a standardized, one-size-fits-all approach to treating patients become the norm. They idealize the concept of a local family doctor who knows everyone in the family, understands each family member’s health concerns, and responds to everyone individually.

Personalization improves patient satisfaction and increases patient engagement. In today’s healthcare environment, in which patients’ ownership of their health and outcomes is growing and becoming essential, physicians are right to personalize care and motivate patients to become active participants in their health journeys.

Working together to improve quality

Standardized care and personalization don't have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, standardization can enhance personalization by eliminating unnecessary work for health care providers and giving them more time to spend with patients. It can also eliminate unnecessary expenses and complications resulting from not adhering to best practices.

Sometimes physicians may make treatment decisions based on their own unique clinical experiences. Standardization compensates for this variation in experience and reveals the outcomes specific treatments have historically delivered to patients.

Standardization supplements physician experience and reduces guesswork. In fact, building off standardization enables care teams to create personalized patient care plans.

Backing up with data

At a time when meaningful, real-time analytics are increasingly available, health care providers can collect outcomes data from local, regional, national, and global sources, and use it to personalize care plans for their patients. Standardizing care and measuring outcomes enables providers to create customized treatment plans for patients that take a variety of factors into account.

Healthcare data, combined with the ability to assess outcomes of similar patients, gives both caregivers and patients the right tools for informed discussion and decision-making. Combining standardized practices with personalized treatment plans increases patient engagement by making patients the focal point of the decision-making process.

With data as the common denominator, healthcare can get to a place where standardized care and personalization meet—the best of both worlds.

How do you feel - is it better to stick strictly to standardized care plans, or customize care for each patient? Leave us a comment.

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