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Looking to increase physician adherence to care standards? Ask for feedback.

April 9, 2018

    Editor's note: This story was updated on July 11, 2018.

    Health care organizations across the country struggle with non-adherence to clinical standards. There are several steps you can take to drive adherence, including financial and non-financial incentives, additional education, and changing the standard when appropriate. However, the first step to addressing non-adherence is understanding why physicians aren't following the standard. Leading organizations proactively seek this information so they can appropriately address the causes of nonadherence as soon as possible.

    Keep reading to see how Texas Health Resources (THR) developed a simple, direct channel from physicians to organizational leadership to ensure that physicians can share their feedback and the organization can identify opportunities to intervene.

    THR created a direct line of communication for physician comments on standards

    A few years ago, THR noticed that adherence to some of its standards was low. Leadership visited various facilities to identify the cause of the problem and learned that many physicians stopped following the standards because they didn't understand the new workflow, had questions about a standard, or simply couldn't find a button on the EMR.

    THR leaders knew that many of these reasons could have been easily dealt with through education and minor tweaks to the standards—if they had known there was a concern. To remedy this breakdown in communication, they created a direct channel between frontline physicians and system leaders in the form of a "help button." The help button is essentially an icon on the desktop of every computer that links to a pre-addressed email where they can share comments or concerns with the design team.

    Guaranteed reply is key to feedback channel success

    What makes this approach particularly effective is that the design team responds to each piece of feedback, usually within two weeks. Physicians know their input is being considered and—more importantly—know that actions are being taken to address their concerns.

    Feedback button increases engagement but not workload

    You may worry that allowing physicians to air their grievances about standards would result in extra work for your design team. Thankfully, THR has found this not to be the case. Most of the time, physician issues can be solved with additional education around the new standard and workflow. An added bonus is that the additional education increases physician buy-in and engagement for other care standardization initiatives.

    And when they do change the standard, it's because a physician identified a problem in the care standard or in the workflow. This helps THR get ahead of workarounds due to a faulty standard by correcting the problem before it's too late.

    Increase care standard adherence at your organization

    You too can create a direct feedback line at your organization: It's as easy as establishing a dedicated email inbox and making the address known and easily accessible to your physicians. If you give physicians the opportunity to share their thoughts, they will—and your adherence rate will thank you.

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