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Review of methods and study designs of evaluations related to clinical pathways

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Review of methods and study designs of evaluations related to clinical pathways
Objective The HealthPathways program is an online information portal that helps clinicians provide consistent and integrated patient care within a local health system through localised pathways for diagnosis, treatment and management of various health conditions. These pathways are consistent with the definition of clinical pathways. Evaluations of HealthPathways programs have thus far focused primarily on website utilisation and clinical users’ experience and satisfaction, with limited evidence on changes to patient outcomes. This lack motivated a literature review of the effects of clinical pathways on patient and economic outcomes to inform a subsequent HealthPathways evaluation. Methods A systematic review was performed to summarise the analytical methods, study designs and results of studies evaluating clinical pathways with an economic outcome component published between 1 January 2000 and 31 August 2017 in four academic literature databases. Results Fifty-five relevant articles were identified for inclusion in this review. The practical pre-post study design with retrospective baseline data extraction and prospective intervention data collection was most commonly used in the evaluations identified. Straightforward statistical methods for comparing outcomes, such as the t-test or χ2 test, were frequently used. Only four of the 55 articles performed a cost-effectiveness analysis. Clinical pathways were generally associated with improved patient outcomes and positive economic outcomes in hospital settings. Conclusions Clinical pathways evaluations commonly use pragmatic study designs, straightforward statistical tests and cost–consequence analyses. More HealthPathways program evaluations focused on patient and economic outcomes, clinical pathway evaluations in a primary care setting and cost-effectiveness analyses of clinical pathways are needed. What is known about the topic? HealthPathways is a web-based program that originated from Canterbury, New Zealand, and has seen uptake elsewhere in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. The HealthPathways program aims to assist the provision of consistent and integrated health services through dedicated, localised pathways for various health conditions specific to the health region. Evaluations of HealthPathways program focused on patient and economic outcomes have been limited. What does this paper add? This review synthesises the academic literature of clinical pathways evaluations in order to inform a subsequent HealthPathways evaluation. The focus of the synthesis was on the analytical methods and study designs used in the previous evaluations. The previous clinical pathway evaluations have been pragmatic in nature with relatively straightforward study designs and analysis. What are the implications for practitioners? There is a need for more economic and patient outcome evaluations for HealthPathways programs. More sophisticated statistical analyses and economic evaluations could add value to these evaluations, where appropriate and taking into consideration the data limitations.
Australian Health Review
Journal Abbr
Aust. Health Review
Library Catalog
Lee, X. J., Blythe, R., Choudhury, A. A. K., Simmons, T., Graves, N., & Kularatna, S. (2019). Review of methods and study designs of evaluations related to clinical pathways. Australian Health Review, 43(4), 448–456. https://doi.org/10.1071/AH17276
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