The era of modern medicine has produced groundbreaking discoveries that have helped save countless lives. But despite their value to patient care, these discoveries also place a heavy burden on providers and their organizations. A study published in 2011 estimated that as of 2010, medical knowledge began doubling every 3.5 years. By 2020, the doubling rate is expected to drop to approximately 73 days. This rapid rate of change has a significant influence on clinical processes. Today’s best practices may be outdated tomorrow. This, in turn, creates unnecessary variation in clinical processes and increases morbidity and mortality risks that can be avoided.
We want to pick-up from where we left off a couple weeks ago, which called attention to healthcare’s “Quiet Crisis” – a scenario in which clinical processes vary widely; are difficult to see into in near-real time; and, next to impossible to control and improve with EHR systems alone. One C-level clinician described the current state as ‘whack-a-mole’ healthcare. This environment is not conducive to clinical process control and improvement.
The serious health threat of sepsis and the accompanying financial impact is a problem well known in healthcare. It causes half of hospital deaths. Measuring the effectiveness of a hospital’s response to sepsis is much more difficult. Despite significant investment in early detection, health systems lack insight they need to understand, control and ultimately improve the clinical processes guiding treatment of sepsis.
Not achieving hoped-for outcomes often stems from not having the capability for instant insight, improvement and control of vital clinical processes that will produce desired results. Clinical process control is critical to changing the current state.
I’ve seen this during my career as a physician and as Chief Health Information Officer at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, and now as Chief Medical Officer at LogicStream Health. For health systems to achieve reliable, high quality, evidence-based care, ongoing improvement, control and automation of clinical processes is must-have capability.
There are a number of forces behind what I call healthcare’s “Quiet Crisis.” The first and most critical issue being lack of clinical process control leading to far too much unnecessary care variation. We have very limited ability to see into the clinical processes in near-real-time to observe this variation and where it can be intervened upon. Therefore, as clinical leaders we can’t find the variation, making it next to impossible to control and actually improve our care delivery.
Topics: Quality & Safety