Douglas Ardoin, MD, MBA
Douglas Ardoin, MD, MBA

As technology continues to change how we practice medicine, hospitals and health systems should consider digitizing care plans to support providers in clinical decision making that is evidence-based and avoids unnecessary variation.

Too often, providers rely on memory to create orders sets or develop pathways. This approach can lead to overutilization of tests or treatments and sometimes to delay or omission of critical elements. The downstream results are disorganized and inefficient, resulting in lower-quality patient care that can lead to injury, suboptimal outcomes and increased cost.

Digitization of care plans can help organizations achieve the Triple Aim and promote value-based care. The goal is to use technology to create processes of care that focus on achieving high-value outcomes.

At Stake: Working Smarter, Not Harder

Providers resist practicing “cookbook medicine”—but even the most famous chefs follow recipes that ensure the quality of the dish is consistent, allowing them to focus more on the presentation. In healthcare, time is wasted on recrafting care plans for new patients in similar situations.

There will always be nuances that require an individual care plan to be adjusted, but providers should not have to perform repetitive work that takes away from critical thinking time. Whether the provider is admitting a patient to the hospital with an exacerbation of a chronic illness or preparing for an elective surgical procedure, care plans and order sets should be digitized and implementable so providers can focus on hands-on care. In addition, building care plans into the electronic health record (EHR) for common conditions and procedures frees up providers to spend more time at the bedside.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other payers are using claims-based analysis to determine whether outcome and utilization patterns are within acceptable norms for certain conditions. In addition, many value-based programs have been developed that either reward or penalize providers based on quality, outcomes and costs. Implementing care plans will help providers be successful in this expanding value-focused paradigm.

Douglas Ardoin, MD, MBA is a managing principal for Lumina Health Partners. This article was originally published in the July 2019 issue of HFMA’s Leadership e-newsletter. Fill out the form below to download a PDF of the article to read it in its entirety.

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