2 Performance Improvement Tools Help Physicians Work Smarter, Not Harder

Thursday, February 13th, 2014
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

In light of health reform, physicians need tools to help them work smarter, not harder, says Mark Shields, MD, MBA, senior medical director for Advocate Physician Partners (APP) and vice president of medical management for Advocate Health Care. Among the tools the organization has introduced since 2004 is the eICU®, which enables physicians to monitor ICU patients 24/7. If physicians engage in this sophisticated tool at the highest level, they can change course or therapy if clinically appropriate.

You have to give physicians tools to re-engineer their practice and improve performance. We are not talking about working harder; these are clinicians who are already working very hard. Instead we are talking about working smarter. Many of those tools are technology tools.

Between 2004 and 2010 we added more technology tools to assist our physicians. We used disease registries — online tools to track patients with a given condition to drive outcomes. They were a key tool for us long before we had electronic health records (EHRs). We do not have EHRs fully deployed across our independent physicians. Therefore, an enormous amount of change can occur with other tools without the full EHR. Sometimes physician groups feel that they must have such a record fully deployed before they can change clinical performance, and that is not true.

We also introduced the electronic intensive care unit (eICU) — a sophisticated tool that supplements bedside staffing in ICUs. Every adult ICU bed is connected to the eICU command post, where intensive physicians and intensive care nurses work 24/7 using electronic and visual monitoring of the ICU patients, with computerized prompts and reminders. It is very important that physicians engage in this at the highest level, so they agree that physicians or the intensives and the ICU can change course or therapy if clinically appropriate.

Excerpted from Guide to Physician Performance-Based Reimbursement: Payoffs from Incentives, Clinical Integration and Data Sharing.

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