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Five steps to minimizing unwanted variations in healthcare with eHealth solutions

Fredrik Wångberg, CEO of Strikersoft and Fredrik Eriksson, CEO of the healthcare center Vårdhuset have a shared interest in and passion...

... for improving healthcare with the help of smart eHealth IT solutions. One of the most important goals of change management is to contribute to minimizing the unwanted variations in healthcare in relation to how the patient is treated, the care that is given, and the subsequent check-ups. The goal is to ensure high quality care that is tailored to each patient’s unique needs, not to the healthcare provider who is providing the care. 

Here Fredrik W and Fredrik E share their collective advice for streamlining and improving healthcare by minimizing variations in five steps.

 

1. Dare to question established ways of working

Healthcare’s hierarchical, profession-based organization, is often a hindrance to change management, but it is first when we dare to acknowledge that actually all is not perfect that there is a possibility for change and development. To dare to break down the barriers and get colleagues to constructively and creatively discuss what is not working is the first step towards improvement.


2. Start with getting an overview and prioritize the most important improvements

Experience shows that the care that is offered is anything but uniform, not only among different caregivers but also between personnel in one and the same healthcare center.  In many places there are no documented routines for how care is to be given or followed-up. This means that the possibilities for improvement are many but at the same time require prioritization. With an overview of all routines that can be standardized it is easier to choose and focus on the improvement that has the best chance of having a positive effect on the quality of care.


3. Document what is to be done and in which order

The basis for reducing variations in healthcare is to ensure that all work processes are well documented. Go through the processes step by step and document what has to be done and in what order. From appointment and tests to doctor visits, prescriptions and check-ups. 


4. Ensure a clear responsibility and role division among the different caregivers 

Many times several different caregivers are involved in the treatment of an individual patient: nurses, dietitians, physiotherapists, doctors and occupational therapists.  To avoid duplicating the work and to offer the best possible care, a clear division of responsibility is important. Documentation therefore isn’t only for what is to be done, but also to clarify who should do it. When everyone knows what was done in the previous stage and what is to be done next he or she can focus on the right things.


5. Don’t hesitate to allow IT to support you in making the work easier  

Today the possibility of using IT to support and make the work easier and more effective is great. Here what is most important is to always start with the organization and ensure that the eHealth solution that is developed supports the patient’s and caregivers’ needs. If the IT project itself is the controlling agent, the risk is that the desired result won’t be achieved. When smart technology makes it easier for personnel to interact with the patients, there is a lot to be gained from using IT to support the daily operations.