Utilization care plans and effective patient data management.
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This article introduces the concept of a utilization care plan (UCP) for supporting the communication of data required for effective utilization review and utilization management. Utilization review is a process of measurement that compares the performance of a ward, department, or entire facility against accepted criteria to identify resource use shortfalls. Utilization management is the deliberate action by third party payers to ensure that shortfalls in resource utilization are minimized. Critical to the success of utilization management is effective data communication; utilization review data must be accurate, complete, accessible, timely, and coordinated. Computer-based UCP systems can remind caregivers when and what services should be provided to patients and also monitor the portion of those services that should be administered during each phase of a patient's therapy. Deviations from the UCP system template constitute variances that can be documented and highlighted in a friendly automated system that ensures highly accurate and extremely timely concurrent utilization information. Some implications of using UCP systems for future research and practice are also discussed.
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