Implementing care protocols, also known as care pathways, is foundational to improving clinical quality. Good protocols
reflect evidence-based guidelines for care delivery, standardizing elements of care to ensure consistent
outcomes. They also support staff in delivering excellent specialty care.
Continue reading to learn the one critical mistake many organizations make when designing and implementing protocols—and how you can avoid it. For more tactics to build and support specialty lines, download our research report excerpt: 10 Tactics to Ensure Specialty Return on Investment, Part 2.
Many organizations make one critical mistake when designing and implementing protocols: they fail to obtain staff buy-in. Seeking staff input not only improves staff use of and compliance with the protocols, but also can improve the protocols themselves, based on staff members’ extensive on-the-ground knowledge.
Leaders at Sheltering Arms, an IRF in central Virginia, listened to therapist feedback that their protocols focused too much on diagnosis. The leaders revised the protocols to target physical impairments common across their patient population instead, building the iWalk and iReach clinical programs specializing in patients with gait and upper limb mobility, respectively. Together, the protocols and associated programs have achieved strong functional gains and driven physician referrals to Sheltering Arms.
As referrers become increasingly accountable for care delivered beyond their setting, they are
identifying post-acute partners who can influence downstream care results.
Comprehensive, cross-setting care is the motivation behind Sheltering Arms’ future evolution of the iWalk and iReach programs. While the protocols are currently used in the inpatient and outpatient rehab services at Sheltering Arms, leaders plan to implement the protocols in the acute care setting by partnering with their referral sources to establish a single, cohesive cross-continuum care plan for patients with gait and upper limb mobility impairments.
The ultimate goal is to use the protocols consistently across a patient’s full episode so that Sheltering Arms can capture reliable data on patients’ assessment at admission and functional outcomes at discharge. This comprehensive data set will enable Sheltering Arms to predict a patient’s likely length of stay, cost of care, and functional outcome at the point of acute care admission.
For more tactics to build and support specialty lines, download our research report excerpt: 10 Tactics to Ensure Return on Specialty Investments, Part 2.