Have you ever wondered what McDonald’s,
Dunkin’ Donuts, and Home Depot have in common?
For businesses in which margin and the bottom line are crucial, it’s all about uniformity. Take note of any McDonald’s. They all operate the same. The burgers are made identical to each other, whether you visit one in Dallas, Texas or Boca Raton, Florida. You can also walk into any Home Depot in the nation and they are each set up almost identical to one another. This phenomenon can be looked at as “administrative protocols.” But what can we healthcare providers learn from this?
From a process management perspective, a clinical protocol provides a framework of action given any diagnosis. Clinical protocols are basically “rules” of how to proceed in certain situations.
Unlike setting up a retail store, clinical protocols should always be based upon evidence-based data. They need to be clear and concise, and should serve as a guideline for practitioners. They should NOT be considered “set in stone” since patient desires, needs, and resources will vary. Protocols should outline what services will be delivered on each visit throughout the treatment of your most common pathologies…based upon your experience of course.
Clinical protocol benefits might include:
- Improved outcomes
- Reduced costs due to standardization of practice
- Lower risks and adverse events
- Staff efficiencies
The biggest challenge with clinical protocols lies in their actual execution. Practitioners are very busy today. We have a lot to focus on. MIPS, patient complaints, HIPAA, electronic health record (EHR) data, etc. are rapidly disrupting our ability to “remember” our protocols. As such, by actually embedding protocols into patients’ records (and then reporting by exception), the use of protocols will increase significantly. The benefits of clinical protocols may be maximized by using protocols within the framework of an electronic patient record system.
So, what can we learn? I strongly suggest that you use an electronic health record system that is specific for your specialty, and one that enables you to set up your practice for success by assisting you and your staff in the execution of patient-centric clinical protocols!
The benefits of clinical protocols may be maximized by using protocols within the framework of an electronic patient record system.