Processes vs Protocols in Healthcare

Healthcare traditionally uses “protocol-based” approaches to address health problems. This includes step-by- step procedures that are based on a single diagnosis. It’s important to note that when it comes to protocol- based approaches, the “diagnostic” label given to you varies a great deal based on who the evaluating provider is.


The problem with this approach is that specific diagnostic labels often lack the ability to consider the unique biophysiological history and individuality of a person, their environmental and social considerations, and the complexity involved in the current presentation of the problem. It creates a “box” in which people and all their complexities are forced into. When you are only given one diagnostic label, it may not seem that complex. However, add in another provider who has now diagnosed you with a second, or different, label; things are going to get messy quickly!


To make matters even worse, what happens when you have multiple health problems with multiple treatment areas and even more providers labeling you with specific diagnoses? On average, most people experiencing a chronic condition will have 2-3 problems concurrently.


This becomes very problematic for the healthcare providers who are all trained to follow protocols for each of their “specific” diagnoses.


To put this in perspective, imagine someone experiencing a shoulder problem. If they visit a rehabilitation provider (such as a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or athletic trainer), they may receive a specific diagnosis and get a set of exercises/activities to perform. Now what happens if they also have neck or low back pain? That’s a second or third diagnosis! That means it’s time to add even more exercises and activities. More issues, means more prescribed exercises.


As that list of homework grows, who honestly has time in their day to follow every order each provider has given them. After a certain point, they may begin to feel like a hamster on a hamster wheel running around and around but not really getting anywhere.


What might have seemed like a simple shoulder problem cascaded rather quickly when a few more issues were noted. Things can get even messier because healthcare providers may be trained in different protocol- based approaches which all fail to recognize the complexity of what it means to be human. Now add in poor communication amongst different providers and we have one confused individual not knowing what’s wrong with them and what they should do! This approach may lead to individuals feeling stuck when their problems don’t resolve with the first few interventions.


This is exactly why the HRF was built as a process-based approach to treatment. The HRF looks at human functions that are universal and overlap throughout the whole human body.


This allows us to address multiple body parts, specific individual needs, and to continuously adapt to the problems that brought you here with only a few home activities rather than countless numbers of exercises.

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