Impact Insights

Clinical Workflow Optimization

Joan Campbell

Are you optimized to achieve true ROI from your EHR? It’s no secret implementation and maintenance of an EHR is a costly proposition.  It’s essential a healthcare organization derive real value from their technology investment.  Yet, implementation of a new EHR simply isn’t enough.  In today’s environment of “speed-to-value” and with EHR vendors pushing implementation of the base product, optimization is most often deferred to post Go Live.  Clinical workflow must be evaluated and often improved to ensure the expected value is achieved.

Technology must be configured in a way that enables operational workflow. This means workflow is in the driver’s seat and must be efficient, safe and in compliance with regulatory requirements. Let’s face the facts; clinical workflow in most healthcare organizations is not optimal.  Unfortunately, we see statistics every day that show the staggering toll preventable medical errors, or just simple waste, is taking on our lives and healthcare dollars.

The good news is there are many ways to approach clinical workflow improvement efforts. Clinical workflow improvement can be done pre-EHR implementation, during implementation and/or post implementation.  You don’t have to do everything at once.

One of the most popular approaches to workflow improvement used in healthcare organizations today is Lean. Lean methodology and tools provide structure, guidelines and the ability to document the problem and track progress toward resolution.  When Lean is used by clinical experts in EHR application configuration, the results can be amazing.

The process typically begins with a review or survey of your current operational workflows. Survey results commonly show the following:

  • Deviations from stated policies exist
  • Similar work is being done in many different ways across the organization
  • Preventable errors are being made
  • Redundant or duplicative work is being done
  • Resources are not being effectively utilized
  • Departmental throughput barriers exist
  • Patient wait times are excessive
  • Essential patient information is not reaching the right place/people at the right time
  • Staff are dissatisfied with inefficient practices
  • Patients are not completely satisfied with their experience

Once you have identified and documented the problem areas (often referred to as “pain points”), the next step is to assemble a team of workflow Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to conduct a deep dive into the cause(s) and options to correct the problem. This session will need to be facilitated by 1-2 experts in workflow improvement and EHR application functionality.

Want to learn more about clinical optimization and how to align people, process and technology to improve clinical outcomes and ROI? Learn more here.

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