Healthier Healthcare Using Operational Decision Management
cheryl wilson 270003VHSH firstname.lastname@example.org | | Tags:  decision-management business-rules business-rule-management clinical-decision-support decision-automation healthcare
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Pete Melrose, an industry expert in Healthcare and Life Sciences at IBM, contributed this guest post.
When Operational Decision Management (ODM) technology, like business rules and events, is used correctly by qualified medical or hospital personnel, it holds the promise of healthcare delivery transformation that can be measured in decreased cost of care, reduced medical errors and much-improved clinical outcomes.
This might sound like a too-good-to-be-true expectation, but it’s not because a principal source of medical practice and healthcare delivery problems is the failure to take into account all relevant information in a timely manner. For example, the volume of information to be considered in real time in the diagnosis and treatment of a presenting patient exceeds human cognitive capabilities, especially in a medical emergency. And if hospitalization is required, the patient's journey from admission to discharge is compounded with potential risks to consider, including nosocomial infection and medical errors.
Operational Decision Management’s sweet spot. Dealing with information-intensive and time-critical environments is the capabilities sweet spot for ODM technologies like business rules and events. In similar environments where the volume and velocity of information are key markers, such as banking and public utilities, ODM technologies have been applied to create a standard of service to which we’ve all become accustomed. Barring extraordinary circumstances, financial transactions are posted immediately upon execution with corresponding and predictable effects on other systems and accounts; and electrical power or telephone outages are subject to timely troubleshooting and prompt restoration of service.
So, why aren't these technologies applied with the same vigor and prevalence to achieve similar and predictable service levels in the healthcare and medical environments? There appear to be two primary reasons:
If you take some time to consider these explanations, they aren’t as persuasive as they used to be, and there are convincing counterarguments for both of them:
The above examples, none of which are particularly sophisticated and all of which are well within bounds of current medical and healthcare delivery expertise, are significant for two cost-beneficial and potentially life-saving reasons:
It’s hard for humans to achieve the same speed, consistency and accuracy of decision-making that ODM technologies can because they can’t be everywhere at once, and they aren’t all-knowing. Even the most talented and capable staff will be hard-pressed to be in more than one place at a time and take more than one action at a time -- while knowing everything they need to know or where to find the required information in real time. So, why not take advantage of available technologies that are delivering on the promise of intelligent decision support for the people and systems that are on (or supporting) the front lines of client care?
To learn more about how operational decision management can improve both healthcare processes and patient outcomes, here are three recent examples – from the provider and payer sides of the house.