Some medical issues, like pneumonia or acute heart failure, require similar treatment for just about every patient. Yet when NYU Langone Health looked into the rising costs of care at their organization, they found that several of these seemingly predictable conditions had a high variability in the cost of treatment from patient to patient. NYU Langone decided to use Clinical Pathways in Epic to better coordinate care for three conditions—heart failure, pneumonia, and colon surgery. Now, two years later, they have lowered their cost of care by $13 million with no increase in readmissions.
In the broadest sense, clinical pathways are sets of guidelines and milestones tied to specific conditions. Care teams use them to keep track of expected outcomes based on the current stage of a patient’s care. “It really helps keep the care team coordinated,” said Dr. Jonathan Austrian, Medical Director of Inpatient Clinical Informatics at NYU Langone. “Each member of the care team is accountable for a specific outcome, but the pathway is the center of the conversation.”
As the patient progresses through the steps of treatment, every detail is recorded in the pathway for all to see. Throughout the process, decision support tools in Epic help care team members make the best choices for their patient. “Our goal was to translate our best practices into actionable protocols—something you could codify in the system,” said Austrian. “We definitely accomplished that goal.”
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