Six ways to optimize processes and improve patient outcomes
Health is affected by five domains - genetics, social circumstances, environmental exposures, behavioral patterns, and health care. Yet, when we care for our patients, we consider only what meets the eye. This is because our healthcare delivery is organized around clinicians’ skillset rather than around patients’ needs. To improve the quality of service and efficiency of care delivery, we need to be customer oriented, just as the American businesses today. Drs. Porter and Lee said that “Reorganizing around the needs of groups of patients with particular needs, in the same way businesses reorganized around particular customers’ needs, is the future of healthcare.”
The six steps to meet the needs of your patients and improve clinical and operational outcomes include:
- Recognize the needs of your patients. The above mentioned five domains and how they interact should be at the core while determining the needs of the patients.
- Align your business unit to meet the needs of your patients. Oak Street Health built their care model to address social determinants by placing their centers right in the middle of the community they serve. Their centers are part of the community center that also house café, computer lab, etc, so that they are part of the patients’ community rather than the other way.
- Develop collaborative relations with other healthcare providers of your patients. According to the industry benchmark report from Renal Services Exchange, 63% of ESRD patients have diabetes and about 50% of the patients had Congestive Heart Failure. Treating these and other comorbid conditions requires that we work closely with the other healthcare members in the community. Create common goals for the patients so that they are easy to follow and achieve.
- Work with the external healthcare partners in the community to also develop processes and protocols to meet patients’ needs. For instance, removal of dialysis catheters requires a close working relationship with surgeons’ office and hospital. The protocol would include steps to take by the hospital and surgeons’ teams along with the dialysis team from access placement plan to transitioning into a functioning permanent access.
- Intensify the interventions for that 20 % of patients who affect the 80% of the facility results. For example, that handful of patients accounting for 80% of facility missed treatment rate need more attention than the rest of the patients.
- Identify and measure overall outcomes together (internal and external teams). For example, decrease the time of transitioning to a functioning permanent access could be a collaborative measure between the dialysis facility, hospital, and surgeon’s practice for the ESRD patients. When working together, you can achieve more with less time commitment.
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Here is a case study detailing the process improvement for incident patients.