- Personalized care isn’t new, but the healthcare industry has fallen short due to poor clinical collaboration
- Collaboration between clinicians needs to be streamlined to help facilitate opportunities for more personalized care.
Personalized care has long been a priority for both patients and clinicians – even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, like many aspects of healthcare, the pandemic exposed areas of weakness.
Creating a tailored approach to care delivery for each individual patient has long been the goal, but it has been a challenge to come to light. Now, after patients avoided care during the pandemic, most have multiple chronic conditions that will require an even greater level of personalized medicine.
However, in addition to the need for personalized care, the pandemic exposed the staggering level of fragmented communication within health systems that makes it exceedingly difficult for providers to collaborate. This, of course, hinders the ability to create care plans – especially personalized care plans.
Therefore, healthcare leaders looking to invest in patient-centered care must first recognize and address the biggest barrier – clinical collaboration.
Barriers to Collaboration and Personalized Care
Streamlined communication is key to collaboration and patient-centered care but, as mentioned, clinical communication is often fragmented. Why?
Well, first most clinicians are utilizing multiple, disparate systems to communicate with the rest of the care team. This leads to waiting for responses (that may never come depending upon the technology – hello pager dead zones) and overall inefficiency of care coordination.
In addition to disparate communication tools, access to patient data between specialties often leads to unnecessary tests, errors, and patient frustration. Just another reason why communication tools need to be unified with other critical clinical systems like the electronic health record.
And, of course, another barrier is simply location. Providers have never been more mobile and more distanced across entire networks of care. Clinicians need to be able to collaborate regardless of geography and, the reality is, that is still a major challenge for most health systems. (And it ultimately impacts care delivery, and hinders the ability to provide more personalized, patient-centered care.)
The Value of Personalized Care
And why is more patient-centered care the goal?
Well, beyond it being the obvious right thing to do, it also has an impact on clinical and organizational outcomes. And we’ve known this for decades.
For example, a 2007 study, Does a Personalized Approach Improve Satisfaction in Thoracic Oncology?, found patient satisfaction was highest when a “quality of life” evaluation was done at admission. The results of this evaluation were relayed to the proper team members and used to personalize care further.
More recently, a 2020 study, Personalized Care Plans: Are They Effective in Decreasing ED Visits and Health Care Expenditure Among Adult Super-Utilizers?, found personalized care plans led to a significant decrease in emergency department visits and reduced care expenditure. Results also showed staff appreciated the more personalized approach and found it helpful.
So there’s no question whether personalized care should be the goal – it’s a question of how do we get there. And we can only get there by first addressing the barriers to clinical collaboration.
The Role of Collaboration
Clinical care teams need to be able to collaborate efficiently and effectively – without this ease of care coordination, personalized care plans are unlikely to become a reality and overall care delivery outside of personalization suffers.
Through use of a clinical collaboration platform, integrated with clinical systems like the electronic health record, communication is unified regardless of role, location, or specialty. That level of unified communication improves care team collaboration, overall care coordination, and enables the delivery of personalized care.