Project Management

Healthcare Project Management: Patient as a Project!!!

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Is patient care a project? Is project managing a patient different from a project of a non-healthcare domain? A debate that runs through the minds of healthcare professionals as myriad of thoughts cloud their mind. And if it is, what’s the benefit of managing it like a project?

Well, the answer is both yes and no! Patient care can be likened to the project and yet be different in the way that it does not/need not adhere to the project management framework. First part first…..

A patient’s disease or condition has a definite start and end and hence is temporary in nature. The end here could be the control or cure of the disease. As the diseases are variable in their durations, the care involved can also vary with the disease duration. For example, diseases can be acute (short term, such as the flu or common cold) or chronic (long term, such as diabetes mellitus, heart disease, cancer, immune deficiency disorders, and so forth); hence, the duration of care differs with each of these diseases. Although projects are considered to be temporary, the result can outlast the project itself. For example, if we imagine a patient’s immunization program to be a project, then, the program is temporary and unique, and the result outlasts the project. In this case, the immunity gained by these immunization programs lasts a long time, even lifelong in some cases. Similarly, the control or cure of a disease outlasts the project of patient care.

The treatment of each of these diseases, although carried out by a certain repetitive set of people—nurses or physicians—is unique and delivers a unique result, which means that the patient’s condition can be controlled or cured or, at times, the result can be a lifelong disability.

So as you noticed, patient care can be conceptualized as a project and the best practices of project management can be applied to patient care for an end-to-end understanding and management of the same.

Patient care is, in many ways similar to projects of other domains. As project management framework cuts across domains, it surely can be applied to managing patient care. Key points that a project manager of a patient must remember are

  1. Patient’s condition can change to worse at any point and that appropriate risk management must be in place to manage such life-threatening situations
  2. Communication plays a key role in keeping all the stakeholders in sync on the prognosis. It helps get the right buy in and concur to the treatment plan
  3. As is the case in other projects, finances to fund patient care can turn out to be a major constrain. It is important to talk to the patient care executive to get an idea of the expenditure
  4. Patient’s care plan runs through highway with a many a traffic cones placed at different places. The dependencies are not clear at all times. It’s important to draw a schedule of plan and work iteratively to define and refine it and most importantly
  5. This project deals with “life” of the patient – the core and basis of healthcare!

Let’s see how a project is initiated in the next post….

Look forward to meeting you all and talking to you ….will be glad to share my thoughts and clarify your questions on this confluence domain. Meet me at the Global Congress Solutions Center in San Diego (25th – 27th September 2016). Can make it? Find the information on the sessions as well as sign up to ask questions

Looking forward…

Posted by Deepa Bhide on: September 10, 2016 12:49 AM | Permalink

Comments (4)

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It is an interesting and thought provoking subject. If you consider every patient care episode as a project, we will have millions of projects running every day! I enjoyed the article!

Thanks Manivel. Yes, you are right! and if we have these many projects, we need to be able to execute them in a standard way to identify and plan for risk. We also need to create an infrastructure to manage the diversity that these projects will bring in!

I plan to detail this concept in subsequent blogs and so stay tuned. You can find links for online session signup here:

Thanks for your comment.

A patient could indeed be a project, and probably should be treated as such. It may be a lot more beneficial to health care.

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