There are many healthcare IT solutions and tools available these days that promise to deliver value and make lives easier for many players within a large health system or healthcare organization. A primary strategy for improving care delivery and cost containment is automating healthcare decisions and processes whenever possible. This cuts down on inefficiency and allows for standards to take root, especially when quality metrics are at stake. If you’re considering a new technology implementation for your health organization and plan to take advantage of automation opportunities and “widgets,” the most important planning you can do is develop solid workflows for the systems you aim to optimize.
How Can We Develop Solid Workflows?
A common mistake we see during health IT integration projects on which we consult is that organizations tend to overvalue certain “voices” to the detriment of those who are more likely closer to the vital details that will make or break workflow definitions. It’s paramount to the success of any technology implementation to get agreement between parties and sign-off at all levels: from those directly interacting with the system on a day-to-day basis to those paying the bill.
Ensuring that complete, well-circulated workflows are developed as the backbone of development is the single most powerful way to get a fully configured product that truly moves the needle on metrics that matter.
Step #1: Understand Current-State And Why It Needs To Change
If you don’t know why you’re adding a new component to an already-complex health system IT architecture, you’re going to be hard pressed to establish success and justify the bill. What gap are you addressing with automation systems? Where are the KPIs justifying the project and how can you establish a baseline to show improvement? Who is resisting change and what is the risk?
Determining how your hospital or health system perceives the current-state and where you hope to realize gains will allow you to move forward with momentum and purpose, as well as ensure those needs are addressed in designing a new flow.
Step #2: Run Through Use Cases Early And Often
There may be an element of the unknown when you’re bringing in a new tool to enable automation at a department or system level, but it’s critical to keep conversations moving forward and focused on the practical tasks to ensure your workflows are detailed and precise. Leaving out a logical yet rare flow could mean broken technology and really jam up a given team or department from being able to execute on their job. Our guess is that’s the exact opposite of what you’re trying to alleviate with automation in the healthcare setting. Making sure all the relevant data points, systems impacted, variables, and entry points are accounted for in a workflow -- even if just focusing on the Minimum Viable Product (“MVP”) path -- is the core of requirements definition for automation implementations.
Step #3: Make User Adoption A No-Brainer
Some automation and A.I. systems are incredibly valuable to large hospitals and payers because they promise to identify waste and loss, while increasing savings and productivity. However, poorly defined workflows -- and the resulting automated technology or widgets -- could actually exacerbate issues if users are finding workarounds to clunky user experience or blocks in necessary process steps. Out-of-band tasks that take place in spite of ample technology available are most often a result of gaps in the understanding of how a process should work (and therefore what should be built and delivered).
It’s All In The Details
The best technology in the world won’t help health systems realize their intent without proper planning and superb attention to detail. Every implementation project is a mix of people and skill sets: some carry the big picture vision, while others are more comfortable in the minutia. Both ends of the spectrum are critical to project success, but the latter group must be prized for their ability to ensure that every arrow on the workflows documented are accurate.