Clinical effectiveness is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as “the application of best knowledge, derived from research, clinical experience and patient preferences to achieve optimum processes and outcomes of care for patients.” Focus on it has intensified as healthcare systems in the United States and many other countries strive to curtail costs while improving the quality and safety of care, as well as enhancing access to care and the experience patients have with the healthcare system. The industry is pulsating with change as it ingests new payment and care delivery models and innovation in technology aimed at improving clinical effectiveness.
These improvements will require better processes and tools to optimize clinical decisions made by healthcare providers as they serve individual patients and, in the case of new care delivery models, populations of patients. For many years, the volume of new information generated has been overwhelming. The ability to harness clinical data is also accelerating, in many cases faster than health systems can make use of it. So it is not surprising that we have not yet made a substantial dent in reducing unwanted variability in care across providers and regions—or that we continue to struggle with a variety of challenges in consistently delivering high-quality, safe patient care at affordable prices.
The answer to these struggles is found within the concept of integrated solutions that work well with existing technology and deliver what they promise. Healthcare organizations should not have to achieve their goals by cobbling together individual products while hoping that they work well with their other technology investments.
The responsibility rests with clinical content and decision support technology providers to bring together end-to-end solutions that help clinicians and healthcare organizations improve the effectiveness of care; to support all stakeholders across the care continuum—clinicians, pharmacists, pharmacies and payers—who are concerned with the delivery of effective care by providing the best possible care and value. Importantly, the content delivered across these solutions must be harmonized so it is consistent across care settings and providers, resulting in work-flow solutions and decision support that are easy to implement, intuitive to users, and have a measurable impact.
Knowledge and technology alone cannot improve the quality and costs of healthcare. They must be implemented artfully, in ways that are compelling to users and achieve a measurable impact. Investment into healthcare technology offers the potential to vastly improve care. We now have fertile ground to help people live healthier and care for them when they fall ill—all while unlocking better value from our healthcare dollars.