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Individual care pathways or integrated care pathway (ICP) is a multidisciplinary are documents or flow charts drawn up illustrating the care options individuals have available when choosing their care, outlining the anticipated sequence of care within a service, helping people with a specific condition or set of symptoms move progressively through from referral to discharge. These focus the care pathways built by organizations in the interests of an individual to ensure access to integrated care across all services, therapies, employment support, primary care, [[mental health services, social services etc.
The sequence is usually set against timescales for achieving each step.
The pathway models the service but variations are allowed, when explicitly justified, as clinical freedom is exercised to meet the needs of individuals.
Such pathways are important because they set out a clear expectaion of the service for staff, managers, patients and their carers and help to reduce unnecessary variations in patient care and outcomes. They support the development of care partnerships and empower patients and their carers.
When designing and introducing care pathways, it is important to incorporate them into organisational strategy and to support them with appropriate clinical policies (eg with regard to waiting list management, confidentiality, record keeping choose appropriate topics which will provide opportunities for improvement.
Peoples progress through the pathway should be routinely monitored and documented.
These plans can help coordinate care, to identify potential communication problems and to identify key workers.