Transforming Patient Pathways: How data driven care can ease preventive health transition

Prevention might be better than cure. But as health systems struggle to build more proactive healthcare models based on prevention rather than constantly waging a rearguard campaign, Capture Stroke Partnership Director Emma Sheldon suggests that macro level system choices could provide the essential lever for change.

Many of the creaks and groans emanating from health systems around the globe are caused by ongoing efforts to shift from curative to preventive healthcare. The need for change has become increasingly clear.

In 2013, the Global Burden of Disease study discovered that just one in 20 of us – less than five percent of the world’s population – had no health problems. In 2019, the Institution for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimated that almost half of healthy years lost around the world can be attributed to risk factors – and suggested that public health systems are failing to stem their effects. “Huge” health benefits could be realised if exposure to these risks was reduced.

One of these benefits might be more focused healthcare, with delivery improved because services are not clogged up with demand from the system. This is certainly the case in the area of cardiovascular and stroke – subject to many different risk factors, all of which may have an impact on the nature of the event, the choice of treatment and the quality of care that is ultimately delivered.

Streamlined data capture

The arc of the patient’s care pathway, from diagnosis through treatment and on to community care, is so dependant on the quality of the data that informs clinical choice. And beyond that, high quality data captured in real time can feed back into the national and global pictures of stroke care. Good quality data not only helps to build best practice for pathways, but it can also contribute to preventive medicine programmes that reduce the need for clinical intervention in the first place.

This is where systems such as Capture Stroke can make such a difference. In the UK, SSNAP is effectively trying to audit what is happening in stroke care on a rolling basis. But there will always be a delay between data capture, analysis, and impact on the care pathway. Capture Stroke provides a live audit for each patient, taking data from each touchpoint as they pass along the pathway, and ensuring that specific alerts are picked up by the right clinician or practitioner.

In a nutshell, this approach encapsulates the increasingly urgent shift we are demanding from our health systems – from the retrospective, reactive view of care delivery to a proactive view in which data constantly feeds provisioning and decision making at every stage of the pathway, including prevention of the condition in the first place.

Of course, meeting SSNAP responsibilities is an important part of that process where stroke care is concerned. But if the data registry takes four months to be updated, it still falls short of the ideal of a live audit, which gives you a running commentary on your patient’s progress and allows you to change course as things happen rather than after the event.

This is the difference that Capture Stroke can make. At the same time as helping the care provider to comply with SSNAP, it enables the clinician to have comprehensive control over what is happening for the patient at every stage of the pathway.

Meanwhile, that data is also playing its part in the national picture, helping decision makers and stakeholders to understand what is actually happening with patients on the wards – and how that knowledge can be used to deliver value in the health system, reshape services and ultimately serve the patient population better.

Taking back the power

Tools such as Capture Stroke are part of a very big picture. At a macro level, they embody the dominant theme in healthcare delivery: how society can move to more preventive care models and reduce the burden on health systems.

If care providers take the time now to invest in these digital technologies, clinicians will start to have more insightful conversations, take back power for their own teams and sites, and motivate them around data that demonstrably makes a difference to the care and treatment they provide.

We know that these digital systems are already working. They capture the right data, interpret it in the right way, and provide clinical staff with the right information to make the best use of their facilities and deliver the best care for their patients. But we have yet to reach the tipping point at which their implementation is effecting the necessary change.

Until that happens, we will be stuck in a no-man’s land between old reactive models of curative medicine and essential new preventive models that address risks earlier, reduce the incidence of preventable chronic conditions, and enable resources to focus on the care and treatment of acute conditions.

This will require a different way of thinking about how and why digital platforms are chosen. In the end, it comes down to how healthcare organisations want to deal with people – clinicians and patients. We know that something needs to change in the healthcare pressure cooker. It is possible that implementing a system like Capture Stroke could act as a valve to release the pressure and signify a new, data driven approach to care delivery.

Author Emma Sheldon

Title Partnerships Director

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