Guest post by Saqib Ayaz, co-founder, Workflow Management and Optimization.
The reason why many hospitals or medical practices fail to integrate the EHR system effectively is that they have not gone for in-depth healthcare workflow analysis before implementing the EHR tool. Healthcare workflow analysis helps hospitals and medical centers to find out areas where health IT solutions can help in increasing the efficiency of performance.
It is important to design an EHR which smoothly fits into the workflow pattern of the medical establishment. The same EHR model does not work for every medical center. This is where healthcare workflow analysis techniques come in useful in designing the best EHR system for the medical facility.
Here are some steps that need to be followed during the healthcare workflow analysis in order to implement the EHR system perfectly:
Mapping of processes
This is the first thing that needs to be done while carrying out healthcare workflow analysis. The core processes that usually take place with regard to individual patients and which need to be analyzed in detail are as follows:
Scheduling: When a person first approaches a medical center, an appointment is fixed. The medical center receives multiple appointment requests every day and all these appointments need to be properly recorded in schedule calendars. Fact sheets are prepared to record the number of patients that the medical center receives during a particular time period. The scheduling process also includes alerts. Both the patient and the doctor should receive alerts about the upcoming appointment in order to be ready for it.
Patient visit: When the patient comes to the appointment, the doctor conducts a medical evaluation. The general checkup is followed by a psych evaluation. After the evaluation process is over, the doctor carries out the diagnosis process. Every step needs to be recorded so that progress notes can be made and the doctor can charge the patient accordingly.
Patient admission: After the diagnosis process is over; the patient gets admitted into the medical facility on the recommendation of the doctor. The enrollment process requires the signing of various forms so that the medical facility gets all the details about the patient.
Treatment process: Once the patient is admitted into the facility, the doctor makes a treatment plan. Either individual therapy or group therapy is provided along with medication management so that the patient can recover as soon as possible.
Discharge from the hospital: When the treatment process comes to an end, the patient is discharged on the date suggested by the doctor. A discharge plan is made and lots of reports are generated in order to record the treatment process of the patient in detail.
This mapping process is a very important part of the healthcare workflow analysis. Without knowing all the processes that go into handling a patient from the moment he books an appointment till the day he is discharged, the medical facility cannot design an EHR system effectively. Mapping of processes helps in identifying those areas which can function more efficiently with the help of EHR.
Just taking note of the various processes of functioning does not help in getting a true picture of the real pattern of the workflow. Direct observation is a must to find out which areas require more attention and how EHR can be implemented to make those areas more functional.
Focusing on time and resource consuming tasks
Healthcare workflow analysis is meant to find out problem areas where health IT can make things easier. Those tasks which are time and resource consuming, especially, require the help of such technology to become less tedious and more efficient. The medical facilities should focus on such tasks first and work on them.
The workflow analysis process should be multidisciplinary
There are so many departments within a medical facility which need to work in tandem with each other to provide the best service to the patients. While carrying out healthcare workflow analysis, it is better to bring together a team of members from all the departments. The perspectives of all the members are important in getting a complete picture of the flow of information within the facility. The team members can unanimously agree on a system that works for all of them effectively.
Review of the mapping process
The mapping process which is carried out at the beginning, should be reviewed by the staff members. Their input is very valuable because they are the ones who carry out the daily operations of the medical facility. They can provide a different perspective on the tasks and responsibilities which are a part of their daily routine.
All these healthcare workflow analysis techniques should be followed diligently. The results of such an analysis help in getting a better handle over the situation and reduce the chances of error. After the healthcare workflow analysis is conducted, the next step is to design the EHR according to the specific requirements of a medical facility.
Designing the EHR
The designing team of the EHR system should consist of doctors, lab assistants, nurses, front-desk staff and any other relevant medical personnel so that all the departments are duly represented. Some things should be kept in mind while designing an EHR system:
- The individual components of the system should be made according to the requirements of the particular departments to which the components are related. This helps in making the system user-friendly and productive.
- The system should not be very complicated that the medical personnel avoid making use of it. The interface should be intuitive to increase the speed and efficiency of performance.
- The EHR system should be free from technical errors. The best software should be used for the EHR. This is a one-time investment which can save a lot of money and time if designed accurately.
- Quality assurance and regulatory compliance should be focused on during the initial stages of the designing process to ensure the security and privacy of the patient data.
These guidelines can help medical facilities in installing a functional EHR system within a short period of time. The healthcare workflow analysis should never be skipped otherwise the failure of the EHR is guaranteed from the get go itself.