Sunday, January 7, 2007

clinical innovation, informed consent, Twenty Clinical Innovations to Build Patient-Doctor Trust: Eigthteenth in a Series

Automating, Standardizing, Customizing, and Documenting the Informed Consent Process

For those of you not in the know, informed consent is communication between patients and doctors culminating in patients’ agreeing to undergo a medical procedure or treatment. The requirement for informed consent is embedded in statutes and case law in 50 states.

For the most part, informed consent relies solely on traditional written consent forms. These forms are often incomplete and may not fully explain a particular treatment or procedure to a given patient. Furthermore, doctor explanations vary from one doctor to the next, and patients tend to forget what was explained. These problems may lead to misunderstandings, patient safety lapses, and malpractice actions.

One web company, Dialog Medical, Inc., in Duluth, Georgia, has standardized clinical communication with an automated informed consent form customizable to the procedure. This novel solution standardizes communication across the enterprise, manages risk, complies with regulatory requirements, and documents informed consent encounters. Its automated informed consent form is now used in the Veterans Administration system, in many hospitals, and by 15,000 physicians.

Dr. Neil Baum, a New Orleans urologist, has written of the importance of automating informed consent in Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare, May/June, 2006.

“Hospitals and physicians are going to be challenged to improve the informed consent process. The government, the AMA, and other organizations of stature are demanding that the informed consent process meet all of the guidelines for truly informing the patient about procedures and tests. The automated informed consent is able to accomplish this previously daunting task. Not only are patients well informed but the risk of malpractice will be significantly decreased. As a result patients will be better informed and more compliant as they will not only be adequately informed but will also understand what is going to be done. The future of medicine will depend on hospitals and doctors making changes and adapting new technology that improve the quality of healthcare and the automated consent is just one example.”

Two Big Things Taking Place in Economic World

Two big things are simultaneously taking place in the economic world today – decentralization and globalization. Thanks to the Web, which transcends health care, business, and national boundaries, complexity is being reduced to simplicity at breakneck speed.

The Web lends itself to greater flexibility, creativity, customization, and individual freedom. In health care. computers make it possible to organize complexity into smaller and smaller units, and to automate solutions to complex problems for individual companies and individuals themselves.

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