Dr. Andrew J. Cole on taking a comprehensive and systematic approach to medicine

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Andrew J. Cole, MD, executive director of Rehabilitation & Performance Medicine at Swedish Health Services, of Seattle, recently spoke to Becker's on the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to medicine and the development of evidence-based care pathways.

Ensuring an ASC or hospital uses a comprehensive approach to care is important to achieve the "best outcome" for the patient, Dr. Cole says.

A comprehensive approach to care ensures that a patient is seeing the right type of provider at the right time in their care continuum.

This ensures that the highest value of care is provided.

"We want to make sure patients who don't need surgery immediately get appropriate nonsurgical care, and when they need surgery we want to make sure they get to the right surgeon for the right procedure at the right time," Dr. Cole says.

Besides effecting direct costs, comprehensive care plans also affect indirect costs, which can be much higher. For example, indirect costs are generated by patients who can not return to their daily functions at home or need to be off work for extended periods of time during recovery.

"We want to make sure we get people back to work, or get mothers and fathers back to their families as quickly as possible," Dr. Cole says.

Dr. Cole says the best health systems offer comprehensive evidence-based care plans that optimize patient outcomes lower direct and indirect costs and thus provide the greatest value for each health care dollar spent.

Another important element of comprehensive evidience-based care systems is building a strong care-giver network that incorporates physician extenders like physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physical therapists and chiropractors. By collaborating with these other medical professionals, physicians are able to increase quality of care, while maintaining a working patient load.

For example, at Swedish Health Systems 71 chiropractors came together and developed a series of evidence-based pathways for chiropractic care that they can use to treat patients. By referencing these pathways all members of the care team are able to know when to seek consultation or transfer care to a different provider.

"We work with all providers who commit to using comprehensive evidence-based care pathways," Dr. Cole says.

Learn more from Dr. Cole at the 15th Annual Spine, Orthopedic & Pain Management-Driven ASC Conference + The Future of Spine in June 2017! Click here for more information.

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