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Standardized routines improve and enhance healthcare quality

One of the biggest challenges in healthcare is the need to reduce the variation in the treatment of patients. The goal is to tailor the care to the patient’s needs, irrespective of which health centre the patient attends, or which healthcare professional the patient meets.


Fredrik Wångberg, CEO of the IT company Strikersoft, who works with the development of new eHealth services among other things, sees the possibilities of working in a more clever way.

- Few health centres today have a uniform way of working, when it comes to how they should meet and treat patients. Not to mention the risk of increased variation when many organizations work with temporary personnel and agency doctors and nurses, then even differences in the way colleagues in the same health centre work is possible. It makes the work inefficient, and can negatively affect the quality of care the patient receives, he explains.

One area where this is current is in the treatment of chronic illnesses.  Asthma, hypotension, COPD and diabetes are all sicknesses where the possibility to reuse knowledge and routines from case to case are good. Similar tests are taken, an assessment is made using the same reference values, and the range of available medicine and alternative treatments is the same from case to case.


Good chance to improve the care of the chronically ill

Fredrik Eriksson runs the health centre Vårdhuset, and has clinics in Malmö and Hörby. He agrees that variation in care isn’t necessary.

- As a diabetic you are supposed to have a check-up once a year. The idea is that each year you are supposed to meet a nurse and a doctor.  Here there is an expectation that the care you receive is approximately the same, regardless of where you live or which health centre you visit.  You also expect that the examination will be conducted in a similar manner each year: that the same tests are taken and the corresponding assessment is made before you get advice and a renewed prescription, explains Fredrik Eriksson. 

Instead, experience shows that the care that is offered is anything but standardized.  According to Fredrik Eriksson it is partly because health services still lack documented routines for how a patient check-up should be conducted, and because many check-ups are not booked in advance, but rather when the patient’s medicine runs out. The yearly control is then replaced by an appointment with the first available qualified doctor who can renew the prescription.


Standardized way of working enables improvements in quality

Today, Fredrik Eriksson and his colleagues at Vårdhuset work actively to reduce unwanted variation so that they can work in a more efficient way, and increase the quality of care they provide.  According to Fredrik Eriksson the key to success is a clear division of responsibilities and a documented process for what is supposed to happen, and when.  He explains:

- Take the example of the diabetic, when we know we are going to do a yearly check-up. At Vårdhuset we ensure that we call patients for their yearly check-up, instead of waiting for him or her to contact us.  That way we can be proactive and arrange the check-up in the best possible way.

- We order tests a week in advance of the check-up so that we have the right information when it is time for the patient to meet the nurse.  During the consultation we work with templates, both as an input to what should be checked and also for the documentation of results.  With the right support, we increase the quality of the medical record, and we also save time since the subsequent administration is reduced.


Well documented and prepared patient

- The next step is to book a meeting with the doctor.  With a well-documented and prepared patient, the doctor’s competence is optimally used. The 30 minutes that is assigned per patient can then be used to focus on the important issues like discussing diet and exercise possibilities, setting treatment target values and prescription renewal – not on searching for test results or on trying to figure out what has happened so far.

When the variation in care reduces, and all patients are treated in a similar way, the quality of basic care is improved, something that, according to Fredrik, is appreciated by the employees:

- Most nurses and doctors who work for us welcome the new standardized way of working, with clear responsibilities and routines in place. Simply put, when something is well prepared, the quality is much higher!

 

Strikersoft offers solutions that support a uniform way of working for the entire organization. With guides and advanced templates on mobile devices, the patient can be more involved and the variation in patient assessments can be reduced. More information can be found on www.strikersoft.com