Healthcare providers and commissioners face a variety of pressures. A new white paper “Transforming Healthcare” shows how support tools can simultaneously address multiple challenges, improve performance and benefit patients. Successful experience of early adopters of the affordable approach described suggests large increases in healthcare productivity could be achieved.
The approach uses a new way of managing information, knowledge and best practice, and associated tools to support the training, updating and practice of healthcare professionals. It also ensures compliance with relevant procedures, regulations and standards and can help break down barriers between parts of the healthcare system.
According to Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas the white paper’s author “Implementation is manageable, affordable and achievable. Benefits include better engagement with patients, greater understanding, more consistent diagnosis and referral, reduced costs, quicker responses, faster dissemination of improved practices, less stress, higher standards of patient safety and care, and enforced and evidenced compliance.”
The safety and well being of patients is a primary requirement, and the management and mitigation of clinical and other risks is a key task of the boards of healthcare organisations. According to Coulson-Thomas “Levels of risk could be significantly reduced by the use of diagnostic and treatment support tools that incorporate checks and balances that would prevent certain situations from occurring.”
Coulson-Thomas’ recent books have shown how knowledge-based tools can provide practicing professionals with easy access to the information and knowledge they require, and day to day support to help them adopt the approaches of high performers when confronted with difficult tasks. They can also be designed to raise professional standards by enabling users to learn with each application, while on-line up-dating ensures they stay current with regulatory and other developments.
The white paper introduces support tools that can suggest appropriate clinical pathways, giving practitioners quick access to continually updated information and helping them to prepare a cost-effective treatment plan. A single, easy-to-use framework can provide the information, tools, evidence, and procedures health professionals need to investigate, understand, and treat or control a medical condition.
According to Coulson-Thomas “Innovations involving treatments are easier to spread when practitioners are supported by tools that help them to identify when and where they could be relevant. Building in specific questions to ask and relevant requirements and regulations can help ensure that new treatments are used appropriately and properly applied. Practitioners can learn from the experience of others.”
The white paper points out that the cost of support tools can be less than what can be saved by preventing just one patient from suffering a stroke. The benefits of a clinical pathway tool include right referral to the right place at the right time, potentially decreasing referral rates; improving clinical governance as patients end up on the right pathway and ultimately in the right place for secondary care.
A support tool could also be useful for teaching medical students, speeding up induction, enabling the easy provision of information to patients, and overcoming procedural problems. Tools can be regularly and centrally updated with new guidelines. Increased speed of diagnosis and referral means more patients can be seen.
Coulson-Thomas considers “Support tools are ideal for working with patients to increase their understanding of their own health and options for improving it, and involving them in both prevention and treatment. Doctors can assess the requirements of individual patients, identify and select preferred courses of action and generate any documentation that may be required. Built in checks can ensure they do not generate requests that do not comply with regulatory and other requirements.
The Adaptation chairman believes “Many of the most pressing problems of health services could be addressed by the systematic use of relevant support tools. Experience suggests significant reductions in healthcare costs could be achieved without compromising – and indeed enhancing - patient safety, standards of care, and the patient experience. Cost is not a barrier. Individual tools are affordable for a single provider.”
The new approach appears a cost effective and largely risk free means of raising quality, disseminating innovation, and increasing productivity, while reducing cost and stress. Assessment and treatment activities to be undertaken more quickly and effectively at lower cost while enhancing patient safety and care.
Coulson-Thomas is clear “The healthcare system touches almost all of us at some point in our lives. It can be transformed to make it much easier for doctors and nurses to work with each other and patients to ensure people live longer and live well.”
The new white paper ‘Transforming Healthcare’ can be obtained from Cotoco. Examples of how knowledge-based support tools can help average professionals adopt the superior approaches of high performers can be found in ‘Winning Companies; Winning People’ by Colin Coulson-Thomas, which can be obtained from Policy Publications.
Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, chairman of Adaptation, has re-engineered end-to-end healthcare processes, and been the process vision holder of complex transformation programmes. He is a fellow of seven chartered bodies and has served on healthcare boards at local and national level. The author of over 40 books and reports, he has helped over 100 organisations to improve director, board and corporate performance, and has spoken at over 200 national and international events in 40 countries.