As healthcare technology evolves, it brings exciting opportunities for profound transformation in the way care is traditionally delivered and documented. Healthcare technology provides countless opportunities to enrich programs as manual processes are automated, documentation becomes less time-consuming, communication is maximized, and quality of care initiatives are supported.
With so much potential, one may wonder why technology is not as widespread or successful as it could be.
While improvements in patient care have been realized, there are still many organizations that struggle with the use of software. More specifically, they find that the technology does not match clinicians’ practice. When I see this happen, my first question is, “Does the challenge lie in the software design or in the workflow?”
If the workflow is in fact the culprit, software will simply automate a process that is not optimal and the results will reflect accordingly.
Dr. Donald Berwick, former IHI President and Administrator for the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services, said, “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets”. As I started to work with hospitals on clinical redesigns, I found Dr. Berwick’s words to be true. Many facilities face workflow challenges such as:
- Clinical workflows not tied to organizational priorities
- Lack of clear goals/targets for improvement in high priority areas
- Lack of real-time visibility with clinical workflow compliance
- Lack of accountability for non-compliance with established practice
- Unnecessary redundancies and/or non-value added work
- Too much or too little data – with reports not reflecting high priority areas
When basic needs such as accountability, data, and goal-setting are unmet, outcomes suffer. For healthcare facilities that have been burned by poor technology in the past, it can be difficult to feel that anything will ever work.
The process I recommend is the strategy that CipherHealth has used to help organizations see opportunities and desired results.
- 1. Specify your organizational priorities.
- 2. Identify goals and targets that are tied to those priorities.
- 3. Map out your current state patient engagement workflows.
- Note opportunities for improvement
- Note unnecessary redundancies
- Note areas where software use eliminates non-value added work
- Review data requirements and current availability of data
4. Redesign workflows to maximize achievement of set goals.
- Eliminate unnecessary steps – redundancies (some may be necessary) and non-value added work
- Streamline workflows by taking advantage of interface opportunities to avoid duplicate or missed documentation
- Prioritize steps in workflow based on organizational priorities
- Ensure data capture in high priority areas
5. Collaborate with your CipherHealth Account Executive and CipherHealth Clinical Team to provide an optimal software configuration to support redesigned workflows.
6. Review data reports to ensure they are reflective of the necessary data elements to track achievement of organizational goals.
7. Monitor data reports to identify trends and areas where action plans can be implemented.
8. Achieve meaningful change in care delivery and improved patient outcomes through implementation of the powerful combination of optimized workflow and technology.
Keeping in mind the importance of tying clinical workflows to technological implementations can help organizations see desired results. In my time within the hospital and health tech companies, I have seen that better planning can have meaningful improvements for both clinical staff members and their patients. As technology becomes more utilized across the care continuum, it is important to follow proven processes for success.