Clinical GLIDEPATH® Tools are an integrated model of care for clinicians. They combine the principles of practice guidelines and evidence-based medicine (EBM) with the principles of clinical experience and patient preferences.
Instead of using chronological age to guide decision making, life expectancy and functional status have been used to create four categories of older patients:
Overlap between categories may exist, functional status may fluctuate and predicting life expectancy may be challenging, but compared with age alone, functional capacity in older persons has been found to be a good predictor of mortality and overall health status.
The recommendations allow for decisions to be made on a “graded” rather than an “all-or-nothing” basis and allow for better patient involvement in decision-making. The four levels are:
Aviators define a glide path as the path of descent of an airplane as marked out by a radio beam along which a pilot may bring an airplane safely to the runway when flying on instruments. Pilots, ultimately, are in control of the landing but the airport control tower assists them to the runway using the glide path.
The term “glidepath” was chosen to emphasize that physicians, together with their patients, are in control; just as the airport control tower uses the glide path to assist pilots to the runway but does not tell them how to land, a Clinical Glidepath® gives guidance to clinicians based on the standard of care for specific diseases while allowing them to decide with the patient the final course of action.
Also, just as a pilot will not encounter the same weather conditions during every landing, the Clinical GLIDEPATH® Tools cover a variety of types of patients. It is not a prescription for caring for patients, rather it is a model of care that is adjusted or modified to the needs and values of each individual patient.