What exactly is a “Care track”?

TforG’s Ritza Suazo goes through the history and development of care paths and patient flows in healthcare analysis. Its multiple purposes in hospital management, finances, policy making and others, leading towards to the creation of our company’s TforG Care Tracks, methodologies and uses.

Clinical care tracks have been around for decades (e.g. as early as 1985 in the US), and during this time they have accumulated quite a varied array of names including: Care maps, integrated care pathways, critical pathways, integrated carepaths and care tracks, among others.

Regardless of their name, most of the early care tracks were created to serve as tools that would help hospitals and healthcare professionals manage and heighten their quality of care, as well as establish a standardization in practice (e.g. often healthcare varies depending on hospital size, physician expertise and the efficiency of the hospital’s administration, care tracks would help provide some uniformity in this matter or at least show a “blue-print” of what care is supposed to look like).

In this manner, hospitals began to construct care tracks using evidence-based models of care, and when applied and followed, these pathways proved to promote organized and efficient patient care in both acute care and home care settings. Established medical guidelines were used as a basis for both treatment and diagnostic phases of care.

Since this time, care tracks have been adapted for purposes other than purely clinical ones. Hospital administration and finance departments as well as many different ministries of health, soon saw the potential of using these “maps” as a tool for laying down new protocol, increasing efficiency, staffing and cost cutting.

It was not long before the medical industry began to see the potential in using clinical care tracks as a tool to understand their markets in a more detailed way. By studying these carepaths, insight could be gained into the needs of their clients (e.g. finance and procurement departments), their end-users (e.g. physicians, nurses, surgeons etc.) and of course the patients and their needs.
Weaknesses or “bottlenecks” within different care tracks represent a wide array of opportunities for the healthcare industry to “step in” and provide solutions, be it through information technology systems that would help logistics within a hospital, or through a new and improved treatment or procedure that would help the patient recuperate quicker (and benefit the hospital through a shorter length of stay or a reduced pharmaceutical bill, etc.).

It is therefore of no surprise that care tracks continue to be a relevant tool for both healthcare providers and the industry to create solutions, establish partnerships and institute overall efficiency in daily operations. Ultimately, the end beneficiary of all this effort is the patient (and that is good news for everyone).

TforG Care Tracks™: A Unique Perspective

During our more than 20 years conducting medical field research, TforG has been able to serve as a “bridge” of open communication among healthcare providers and the industry. To put it in simpler terms, our clients in the medical industry hire us to ask questions that will allow them to better meet the needs of their clients (the providers). In turn, our contacts on the provider’s side trust us as the messengers of their feedback.

As the “middle-man” of these dialogs between the industry and the providers, TforG has developed a high level of expertise in terms of what most companies need/want to know as well as the common “bottlenecks” or “weak points” in different healthcare systems where providers might benefit from, and welcome the help of the industry.

TforG has now harnessed this knowledge to create our own “industry-oriented” care tracks with the end goal of helping our clients gain a unique perspective into what exactly the needs of their clients are and to identify the different opportunities for collaboration at different points in the carepath.

Our Approach: A Multi-disciplinary Perspective

When creating our own care tracks, one of our first priorities was to enrich traditional models by incorporating a variety of perspectives and involving key opinion leaders of both clinical and financial/administrative backgrounds.

Within these categories our data acquisition phase made use of two of our most prized respondent groups: “The TforG Advisory Board” and “The TforG Hospital Network”:

Our Advisory Board boasts both clinical and non-clinical profiles (e.g. central procurement managers, payers, buyers, GPO’s and ministry of health members) who have broad scope knowledge and are able to share expert opinions on future trends and country wide practices. A.B. members are from all over the world including the Euro-big 5, Turkey, Russia, China, India, the U.S. and others.

Our hospital network profiles on the other hand, are quite adept at sharing “here and now” type information e.g., current clinical practices, the effects of reforms, opinions on treatments and brand equity information. This network is contacted to share hospital level information and numerical data (i.e. prices, demographics, purchase volumes and brands). Experts in this group include clinical and non-clinical profiles (e.g. hospital administrators, CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, hospital strategy managers, and GPO’s).
TforG has consolidated and fused all these different perspectives together in the making of our “pathology based” and “country specific” care tracks, to create value for our clients.

The results of this massive endeavor have proven of great interest and benefit to many of our multinational partners, offering information on:

  • Treatments, standards and types across different countries and settings (i.e. primary, secondary and tertiary care). Our care tracks also offer information on market opportunities.
  • Types of testing and diagnostic strengths and weaknesses in different countries and settings.
  • Stakeholders and decision makers at different points in the patient’s trajectory. This gives clients an understanding of how these profiles affect the carepath as well as the amount of influence they hold in the decision making processes.
  • Understanding decision drivers and the weight they hold (e.g. clinical factors, MOH regulation, financial drivers etc.).
  • Country specific regulations and differences in the healthcare structure by country. Through our digital interface, TforG Care track users can compare various countries and tailor their sales and marketing approaches accordingly.
  • Country and setting specific needs in terms of treatments, technologies and diagnostics.
  • Trends in treatments: pharmacological, non-pharmacological and surgical.
  • Patient preferences and how much weight they hold in the decision making process.

Yearly updates help us keep up to date with the latest changes and reforms, allowing us to offer our clients a constantly evolving and country specific preview into the dynamic field of healthcare.

About Ritza Suazo

Researches and creates Clinical Pathways and Country Deep Dive Reports at TforG. With almost a decade of experience in Clinical Market research she also manages and recruits the TforG advisory board. She graduated with a double major in psychology and international business management from Stony Brook University in New York and continues to apply her experience in research specializing in the US, UK, Spain and South American Markets.