Treatment protocols are care paths, based upon accepted utilization guidelines and a consensus among the healthcare delivering team, that organize the diagnostic and therapeutic services that are appropriate to a patient’s condition and how often each should be performed. Essentially, treatment protocols map out case management decisions and are individualized according to each patient’s specific complicating or attenuating factors. They summarize what is to be done, how often, and for how long.
Treatment protocols consist of three basic components: diagnostic procedures, passive interventions that may be provided by the practitioner, and active interventions that patients may perform on their own. Treatment protocols, centered on a plan of intervention and monitoring, map the processes and chronology that practitioners go through in making their clinical decisions.
There is no such thing as "one size fits all" care. However, a more efficient approach to case management is to modify a set treatment protocol, based upon an individual patient’s needs, rather than to create one from scratch (or memory) each time care is provided. Treatment protocols provide a concise methodology for the application of care over the duration of the case, be it brief and episodic or of longer term. Each patient responds uniquely to the care he or she receives and, through regular reassessment of the clinical progress, treatment protocols can be modified to reflect the level of patient progress.
Treatment protocols also make possible the retrospective reconstruction of the clinical decision making process. Well-organized treatment protocols capture the details of the courses of action that were performed throughout care. Without the benefit of a treatment protocol, it may be difficult for practitioners to remember exactly why they approached a specific situation in the way that they did. Treatment protocols help to coordinate care and keep everyone on the healthcare delivery team on track. Everyone knows what is going on all the time.
Dr. Mark Sanna is the CEO of Breakthrough Coaching, LLC, a leading resource for personal coaching to chiropractic and multi-disciplinary practices throughout the country. He can be reached at Breakthrough Coaching, LLC, by calling 1-800-7-ADVICE.