How to Identify Gaps in Healthcare and Close Them Effectively
Explore the impact of having gaps in healthcare and the best methods and strategies to close them.
Updated October 31, 2023.
During Covid-19, guidelines for surgery and testing became a major issue. In the operating room, particularly during general anesthesia, medical staff faced a higher risk of Covid-19 exposure—up to 10x more likely—due to ventilation and close patient contact. Guidelines on when to test surgical patients were frequently updated, often weekly, and this inconsistency extended to handling Covid-19-positive patients, both in and out of hospitals. The lack of clear guidelines led to care gaps, frustrating patients who sought answers from uncertain medical staff.
This ambiguity resulted in numerous surgery cancellations, impacting finances and causing critical care delays. The confusion not only affected patient outcomes but also lowered staff morale and patient satisfaction.
Below, we take a look at how to identify gaps in care plus how to close them effectively.
Meet the Expert
How to Identify Gaps in Healthcare
Create Guidelines and Protocols for a Unified Foundation
As clinicians, our primary tool is knowledge. That's why experts from academic institutions worldwide invest significant time in research, which forms the foundation of evidence-based medicine. From these research findings, another set of experts dedicates years to crafting guidelines. These guidelines, in turn, inspire the creation of protocols, which are localized interpretations of broader evidence.
Protocols are essential because they standardize and coordinate care. If every medical professional adheres to the same protocol, there's a unified understanding of the approach to take.
Put Guidelines and Protocols into Practice
Once these guidelines and protocols have set the benchmark, they're an effective tool for identifying gaps in healthcare. Healthcare facilities and practitioners can:
- Compare actual care practices and outcomes against the recommendations in guidelines and protocols. Inconsistencies represent a gap in the respective areas.
- Measure if staff adhere to the guidelines and protocols. If not, this indicates a gap and should be investigated.
By identifying gaps in healthcare, organizations can improve patient outcomes and the overall quality of healthcare services provided. But once identified, how do you address these gaps?
Strategies for Closing Gaps in Healthcare
1. Understand Why Gaps in Healthcare Exist
To fix the problem, you have to understand where it comes from. By addressing the underlying issues, interventions can be targeted and tailored to address specific problems, leading to more successful outcomes. Healthcare facilities can get more insight into the root of the problem by:
- Making data-driven decisions: Analyzing relevant data like clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction surveys, and more can help to close gaps in healthcare.
- Involving healthcare practitioners: These professionals are hands-on when it comes to following guidelines and protocols. They have unique and practical insights on why best practices are effective or not.
2. Invest in Centralized Knowledge Management
One of the primary challenges in bridging the knowledge gap is ensuring that once a protocol is established, medical professionals are both aware of it and adhere to it. Plus, protocols may be scattered between departments, so locating and updating protocols at any point becomes tricky.
This is where a robust knowledge base becomes an integral tool in a clinician's daily operations to help close gaps. Clinicians can:
- Instantly access information in a centralized repository, including clinical, practical, and administrative knowledge.
- Make timely updates and inform all users.
- Upload various content formats.
- Monitor advanced analytics to assess content consumption and engagement.
Effective knowledge management means crucial information reaches clinicians, guidelines for various procedures are established, and knowledge gaps are identified.
Identifying and Closing Gaps with C8 Health
The crux of the matter is that while organizations like the American College of Cardiology or the American Heart Association produce guidelines, these are considered recommendations. Every medical institution has its unique set of equipment, staff, capabilities, and available medications. As a result, these general guidelines must be adapted to fit the specific needs and resources of each institution, transforming from broad recommendations into localized protocols. This customization is essential because even two hospitals in the same city might have vastly different practices.
This is where the significance of C8 Health's system comes into play. It recognizes that medical protocols aren't universally applicable.
Find out how anesthesiologist, Max Feinstein M.D., uses our platform to streamline medical guidance and collaboration.
Bridging Care Gaps for Better Healthcare
In the healthcare landscape, addressing care gaps is paramount, as exemplified during the Covid-19 pandemic's uncertainties. To effectively bridge these gaps, healthcare organizations should employ data-driven decision-making by analyzing data and involving practitioners to understand the root causes. Centralized collaboration platforms like C8 Health play a crucial role in ensuring accessible, adhered-to protocols. These platforms, while recognizing the need for customized guidelines, promote standardized care and empower healthcare professionals to enhance patient outcomes.