Making it Easy to Follow Clinical Guidelines
Patient outcomes improve when guidelines are part of provider workflows

Every year, researchers publish thousands of clinical guidelines for patient care. While adherence to these guidelines is shown to improve outcomes, it can be difficult for physicians to keep up with the volume of new and updated guidelines. And even when healthcare organizations take an active role in communicating these guidelines to providers, that’s often not enough. Instead, guidelines need to be a part of normal workflows, as Stanford University Medical Center discovered when they tried to implement new clinical guidelines for the appropriate use of blood products.

Stanford developed a campaign to share the new guidelines with providers, but adherence didn’t improve until Stanford added decision support for the guidelines in Epic, helping improve adherence by 57.3%.

“Providing education at the moment a doctor actually orders blood made a big difference,” said Dr. Lisa Shieh, a hospitalist and clinical professor who’s studied the relationship between decision support and adherence. Going forward, Stanford plans to involve more hospitalists in the development of new alerts to ensure that the alerts appear at the most useful moment of a workflow.

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