Care variability has become a global epidemic, and the cost to health systems is growing by the day. In fact, a landmark study looking at 30 different conditions in the U.S. concluded that only 55% of patients receive an evidence-based recommended course of treatment.
Research has shown that the same condition may be treated differently depending on a patient’s zip code, resulting in poor clinical outcomes and skyrocketing expenses. How can we close this gap in healthcare sustainability? The key is to drive behavioral change is by harmonizing decision-making, ultimately reducing unwanted variability in care. Harmonization happens when the entire care team has access to the information needed to make evidence-based decisions for their patients. By sharing and applying evidence-based clinical standards across the continuum of care, organizations can reduce unwanted care variation, manage costs, and improve outcomes.
Three components of harmonized decision-making
1) Driving evidence-based decisions
Evidence-based decisions can strengthen clinicians’ knowledge base and help reduce care variability by allowing them to keep current on rapidly evolving medical knowledge, ultimately leading to more effective care.
2) Aligning care teams and patients
To improve quality and reduce costs, organizations must engage patients and empower the larger care teams who treat them. This means having an approach that spans the entire care journey and fosters collaborative decision-making between care teams and patients.
3) Activating patients, wherever they are
A major factor in clinical variability comes from the decisions patients make about their own care. Therefore, truly involving patients in their healthcare is the third element of reducing unwanted care variations. Multiple studies have confirmed the benefits of patient engagement programs in a variety of clinical settings. Most are found to improve patient knowledge, to result in fewer invasive procedures, and to increase patient decision-making autonomy. They can also result in better clinical outcomes.
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