Care planning software helps doctors make the right treatment call

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Abington Jefferson Health in Pennsylvania is using care planning software, embedded with guidelines, to deliver guidance on treatment directly to clinicians at the patient’s bedside for more than 200 conditions.

The two-hospital delivery system with six clinics, anchored by 665-bed Abington Hospital, is moving away from a paper-based process of monitoring patients by adopting an electronic decision support documentation process that lets clinicians better understand patient needs and implement appropriate intervention programs.

The goal is to have internal professional teams of clinicians all documenting together the same way and expanding documentation to more deeply cover potential patient problems, educational needs of patients and families and interventions specific to the reason for admission, explains Diane Humbrecht, chief nursing informatics officer.

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Clinicians using the software include therapists, nurses, nutritionists and respiratory care, as well as pastoral care.

The need for tighter processes was the impetus for the initiative, according to Humbrecht. As the organization transitioned to the new software, it evaluated the practices of various healthcare professionals and found they were all in their own individual silos and did not know what other clinicians were doing and how they could work closer together. There also was a realization that care planning was not being optimally done as nurses were doing the planning using generic care and patient teaching plans.

Consequently, Abington Jefferson Health has implemented care planning and decision support software from Elsevier which pushes patient information into the electronic health record system, enabling a doctor or nurse to work within the EHR rather than toggling between two or more additional information systems.

This eases accessing data and helps create a more patient-centric environment and bring the care teams together, Humbrecht says. “We had a lack of care planning and non-specific patient centered care planning and now we are more specialized. It is imperative to have evidence-based tools embedded in the practice. We have trusted tools now.”

The tools, recently also installed for emergency care clinicians, help to identify and support patients needing interventions, which improves the continuity of care.

Now, clinicians document interventions in the EHR as they go along. If documenting a patient with an abnormal respiratory assessment, the decision support software, within the EHR, will suggest interventions specific to the problem that the patient came in with, supporting patient centered care.

“This concept really changes how you practice,” Humbrecht advises. “It is more than an IT solution—it helps change clinical interventions.”

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