- learn about the conceptual framework Hodges' model. A tool that can help integrate HEALTH and SOCIAL CARE, INFORMATICS and EDUCATION. The model is situated, facilitates person-centredness, integrated - holistic care and reflective practice. A new site using Drupal is an ongoing aim - the creation of a reflective workbench. Email: h2cmng @ yahoo.co.uk Welcome

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Squaring circles: Compressed patient care pathways = rich(er) patient experiences?

The use of Lean and Six-Sigma, their combination and other service improvement approaches has resulted in much more effective patient care pathways. A shining example is that of diagnostic medicine and subsequent out-patient appointments, apparently patients can attend for diagnostic services such as imaging and on the same day also attend for their first out-patient appointment. This saves time for all, with expensive imaging technology also proving its worth and RoI by working from 0700-2200.

Trust Boards are well pleased with such progress, but there is no such thing as a free lunch. Managers and execs know the lunch (diagnostics and imaging) isn't free, but quantitative aspects aside what does does this mean in terms of quality and assurance? Quality in the sense of:

  • patient (and carer) experience;
  • staff capacity to find and take advantage of patient learning (self-care, patient health career management) opportunities;
  • assessment and evaluation of patient (carer) comprehension;
There is a circle to be closed by relating quality to quantitative aspects; such as, re-referral rates, re-admission, medication / treatment concordance, plus the infusion of intelligence from local and national patient related outcome measures [PROMS] to new patient journeys.

In information science there is the concept of information compression, taking out the redundancy - repetitive data in an image or text to save on processing, transmission, and storage. As Lean Six Sigma assists teams to remove tasks, processes that do not 'add value' then the result is a richer experience. The patient journey has in this sense been compressed. The patient has fewer hospital and clinic visits with fewer bus, taxi journeys, or they pay less in car park fees. Health personnel and specialists are primed to help and deliver services that really count.

What does this compressed - 'denser' experience - mean though? Does it mean that:

  • patient's are exposed to more information (2-3 significant interviews / leaflets / instructions)?
  • there is less time available for education, health promotion, info Px giving?
- or alternately:
  • does this 'value packed' patient journey help by providing rapidly successive hooks - experiential threads to integrate patient (carer and staff!) learning?
It will be interesting to see answers to these questions and how extensive the scope of benefits are of these patient experiences across different care contexts.

Is there an optimal number for 'clinical encounters' before things start to go awry?

PROMS are quite specific (as they need to be initially), but amid richer and varied patient journeys there will be a need for other (national and local) measures.
What about the extent and level of 'care complexity' and 'holistic care'?

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