In health IT today, there are many new applications being implemented. Getting the implementations right relies on getting the workflows right first. Workflows need to drive technology decisions and implementations.
Streamlining workflows have been discussion topics as a way to gain efficiencies and do more less. The focus should not necessarily be on the latter element, but it should be on designing and implementing workflows in a smarter way.
With increased discussion on workflows, an important point to remember is keep it simple. For your workflow:
- Document your current workflow
- Document what you would like your workflow to look like
- Identify the gaps
- Adjust the workflow to close the gaps
- Enable the flow
A little more detail on each:
Document your current workflow. Talk to the people involved in the key steps – from schedulers, physicians, radiologists, technologists, billing professionals, etc. Map the current workflow with the help of the individuals doing the work first-hand.
Document what you would like your workflow to look like. As you talk to people, ask for ideas on how to improve. Meet with key leaders in your organization to determine objectives. Most importantly, talk to the physicians who receive the results that you deliver. Get the customer feedback!
Identify the gaps. What are the key differences between the way you do it today and the way you would like it done? Again, more importantly, what is the way your customers want it done – both patients and physicians?
Adjust the workflow to close the gaps. Not all of the gaps can be closed simply. Identify the high impact – low implementation effort items and do those first. For the others, develop a plan of how to close the gaps and continue to implement to the defined goals. Communicate your results along the way!
Enable the flow. Some activities in the workflow will require no technology. Others will require technology investments. Look for ways to automate the healthcare workflow, simplify the steps, and deliver value to the people doing the work throughout the process. Also look for ways to leverage technology for the improvements that enhance patient quality, enhance productivity, and deliver real service to the referring physician community.
In the past, an emphasis was placed on streamlining radiology workflows. Radiology departments, groups, and practices have driven these practices to enhance results for their patients and referring physician community. Taking the time to learn from them would be time well-spent.
There are many ways to improve your workflow, but the best way is to get started… with the basics.