For decades, DXC Technology has partnered with healthcare organizations to help increase operational efficiency, to deliver safer, more equitable and effective care, and to improve experiences. It advances health organizations’ use of technology with solutions for actionable analytics and organizational change management, underpinned by systems implementation and optimization for the unique needs of healthcare.
Personalized care pathways are linked to better outcomes and improved patient safety. In addition, they can promote greater health equity in communities.
Becker’s Hospital Review recently spoke about personalized care pathways with two strategists from DXC Technology: Dr. Urvashi Pathak, Director Industry Strategist, and Kimberly MacDowell, Vice President, Commercial Healthcare, Americas.
Question: What does personalized care look like in practice?
Dr. Pathak: We all know that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to healthcare. We often encounter multiple disparities in populations served, such as gender, race, ethnic background, social and financial status, languages, nationalities and more. While organizations are aware of these diverse subsets within patient populations, many still leverage similar care pathways for individuals who present with the same diagnosis. This can result in less-than-optimal care outcomes. Personalized care is the ability to customize pathways and care delivery in accordance with disparities.
Q: What benefits can personalized care pathways yield for patients? How can organizations create these pathways?
MacDowell: Personalized care pathways can have a major impact on care outcomes and patient safety. Simple approaches include using a translator when a patient’s primary language isn’t English, proactively recommending alternate dietary options for individuals with specific religious requirements or ensuring that a social worker is available for patients without a stable discharge disposition. These sorts of interventions have a far-reaching effect on influencing care outcomes.
At a high level, organizations must be intentional about creating customized care pathways to accommodate disparities between patients. Executive sponsorship for the initiative is a critically important first step. It’s also essential to understand the value of a strong partnership with a clinical-operational user group. Organizations must leverage technology across analytics and EHR clinical content design. Diversity champions and early adopters often exist amid cross-functional teams. These individuals may be good candidates for establishing focused, multifunctional design workgroups. A final best practice is focusing, supporting and promoting organizational adoption for the initiative.
Q: How can leaders ensure their organizations leverage technology in ways that support health equity and don’t further perpetuate existing disparities?
Dr. Pathak: In healthcare, technology can enable business imperatives like personalized care pathways to support health equity. When organizations take on these types of initiatives, it’s important to recognize that strong partnerships with clinical workgroups play a significant role in clinical content design.
In addition, personalized care pathways in EHR systems must be adjusted as the population mix evolves. As a result, these designs need to be flexible, intuitive, and easy to use. Predictive and prescriptive analytics are useful tools for refining and customizing care pathways. A robust, actionable feedback mechanism for capturing actionable information is also essential.
When technology designs are complex or flawed, adoption rates decrease, existing disparities are amplified, and end-user dissatisfaction increases dramatically.
Q: How can leaders identify and empower equity champions in their organizations?
MacDowell: Equity champions aren’t limited to caregiving roles. They exist across healthcare organizations in functional areas like information services, business operations, finance, and human resources. It’s important to identify these ambassadors. As it relates to the business of healthcare, volunteers from cross-functional teams can formally establish workgroups tasked with designing diversity and equity interventions. Champions are empowered when the executive leadership team provides strong support and focus. Identifying and empowering diversity champions also increases employee engagement and promotes a sense of purpose and pride within teams.