National Pathway Association (1998)
ICP’s have their origin in providing coordinated care to patients by different specialist teams within a healthcare organisation. Each team records their interventions on a patient for a specific health condition in the organisation’s Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system and other teams intervene accordingly based on the notes provided. This paved the way to define electronic ICP’s (e-ICP) in EPR systems.
The advent of Electronic Health Records (EHR) brought the possibility of extending ICP’s across multiple healthcare organisations from different care settings. EHR's facilitate flow of information across different care setting boundaries even to agencies outside healthcare (e.g. social care) who are involved in the care of a patient.
Benefits of Electronic Care Pathways over EHR's:
• Allows care pathways to be built around patients and not institutions by providing real time recording and allowing different organisations involved in the patient care to have the same view
• e-ICP’s provide quick access to information(instead of browsing though bundles of paper for which each organisation has different format and different recording styles) and provide multiple views – high level summary view from different organisations as well as detailed view of each organisation in a chronological fashion
• e-ICP’s allow faster remodelling and review of business processes to suite each patient
However the difficulties in deploying e-ICPS’ through EHR is not a technological one but cultural and business one involving the need for agreeing common data formats and sharing the data owned by an organisation across different care settings and agencies.