Definitions of Pathway
Before examining the detail of the process map, it is important here to consider how staff participants perceived the term “patient/care pathway” and thus to clarify precisely what this study is examining. It was evident from the data that the definition of a pathway and use of the term are highly variable across healthcare professional groups. Some refer to documents (e.g. similar to an ICP); others view it more simply as a trajectory of care that is tailored to the needs of the patient. One participant described it as standardising processes and systems, which he considered extremely important to ensure that patients have options of care offered to them. Another staff participant considered it a “wishy-washy” term that covered
Fig. 7.1 High level of process map of COPD patient pathway. (Source: Author) everything. One participant noted that with the launch of their organisation’s new guidelines for the COPD pathway there was more clarity among healthcare professionals around referral criteria to services such as pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). Here we adopt the simple explanation of a trajectory of care that (ideally) is tailored to the patient’s condition.