Home From The Editor Standardization vs. variation and preferences

Standardization vs. variation and preferences

December 2015

Published in the December 2015 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

AS IN POLITICS, much of health care is local. Guidelines may lay out the best evidence for patient care, and the government may pass laws dictating the technology that hospitals and physicians must use. But many in health care still end up doing things their own way.

Evidence-based medicine has been around for decades, but health care is notoriously slow to change. As our story points out ” and as hospitalists know all too well “there are all kinds of hurdles to standardizing clinical practice, from getting physician buy-in to overcoming logistical barriers.

We talk to hospitalists implementing evidence-based protocols, who say that can be a difficult process. But they are successfully pushing their hospitals away from practice variation and overuse to more evidence-based strategies.

As for standardizing how physicians communicate, the situation is similar. Our cover story finds that the explosion of digital communication technologies “everything from Vocera to TigerText “has led many doctors to adopt a patchwork approach. Physicians now carry around multiple devices “cell phones, pagers, tablets “to communicate to different groups of clinicians.

While hospitals may try to streamline those options, physician preferences often get in the way. Some insist on using their cell phones at work to minimize the number of devices they have to carry, but others don’t want to even give out their phone number, worried that they’ll effectively end up being on call 24/7.

So far, hospital leaders aren’t forcing physicians to adopt one communication platform “and maybe one platform will never suffice for all the communication needs that doctors have. But will health care ever achieve the level of standardization that exists in other industries? While hospitalists are helping their facilities reach that goal, for now, at least, much of health care remains local.

edoyleEdward Doyle
Editor & Publisher