Articles, PSQH June 20, 2012

Patient-Centered Workflow

by Barry P Chaiken, MD

In the design of successful healthcare information technology implementations, patients matter. Although the importance of addressing the workflow needs of clinicians cannot be overstated, focusing on patient needs helps ensure newly designed workflows leverage the full capabilities of information technology tools. In addition, this delivers the clinical and financial outcomes desired by organizations. Entities that ignore the needs of clinicians in designing HIT driven workflows can expect to experience either low levels of HIT adoption among clinicians, suboptimal patient care results, or both.

The Institute of Healthcare Improvement —led by founder and former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Don Berwick, MD—displays this mantra throughout its facility:

“Every system is perfectly designed to achieve exactly the results it gets.”

Therefore, organizations that utilize new information technologies to mimic the existing workflow of clinicians deliver results no better than outcomes previously reached. In some cases, the inherent complexity of the information technology when deployed within a paper-based workflow can deliver results worse than originally obtained.

To effectively implement HIT, organizations must understand in-depth the capabilities of the available information technology, the requirements of the practicing clinicians, and the expected outcomes of all impacted stakeholders (i.e., patient, clinician, organization). Readily available healthcare information technologies offer invaluable tools such as single sign-on (SSO), roaming desktops, location awareness, and fast-user switching to support impactful patient-centered workflows.

Patient-centered workflow requires stringing together individual steps, the linking of processes, and the bridging of activities by multiple caregivers to create an effective and efficient orchestration of resources to enhance the health of the patient.

Excerpts from: Patient-Centered Workflow. PSQH, July/August, 2012


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