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How workflow design can improve healthcare delivery

Using workflow design as a tool for innovation can lead to transformative improvements in healthcare quality and efficiency.
By admin
Mar 16, 2023, 2:52 PM

“Doing More with Less” is the key concept at the center of healthcare innovation in 2023, as hospital CIOs tell CHIME Innovation they are not as interested in risky new startup technologies as in dealing with the challenges of nursing shortages and worker burnout. Designing better workflows around clinical processes and updating outdated process documentation are ways that IT leaders are leveraging “efficiency innovation” to achieve more immediate improvements with low risk. 

The “A-Ha” moment for Dr. Dirk Stanley when he discovered the power of workflow design principles was profound: “I became a document whisperer for good clinical workflow design and EMR support. Using this deeper understanding of how these common concepts are related has helped me to quickly draft the ‘workflow blueprints‘ that help to outline workflows, identify deliverables, identify stakeholders, create clarity, develop understanding, and align expectations before beginning a project.” 

Workflow design is the process of mapping out how work gets done in an organization and planning for how it can be improved with technology. In healthcare, workflow design can help optimize the delivery of care, reduce errors, increase patient satisfaction, and lower costs. 

One example of healthcare process improvement innovation based on workflow design is the use of lean principles. Lean principles are a set of methods that aim to eliminate waste and maximize value in any system. By applying lean principles to healthcare processes, such as hospital admissions, emergency department operations, patient transfers, medication administration, and billing, health systems can identify best practices and incorporate them into their clinical workflows. 

According to Health Catalyst, a data analytics company that helps healthcare organizations improve their performance, some of the benefits of adopting lean principles for healthcare process improvement are: 

  • Reduced length of stay 
  • Decreased readmission rates 
  • Improved patient safety 
  • Enhanced staff satisfaction 
  • Increased revenue 

To implement lean principles effectively, healthcare organizations need to measure their current processes using data and feedback from patients and staff. Then they need to analyze the data to find opportunities for improvement and test changes using small-scale experiments. Finally, they need to monitor the results and adjust as needed. 

Workflow design is not a one-time activity but a continuous cycle of improvement that requires collaboration and commitment from all stakeholders. By using workflow design as a tool for innovation, healthcare organizations can transform their processes and outcomes for the better. 

This is just one of the key strategies for managing innovation in a tight and troubled economic climate that Healthcare Leaders will tackle at CHIME’s Sustainable Innovation Summit – May 3-5 – at the Baptist Health Jacksonville Innovation Center with host Aaron Miri – register today! 

Building on extensive experience in the fields of journalism, media production, and learning design and development, John Marc Green’s newest adventure is serving as Director of CHIME Innovation. In this role, his ongoing conversations with CHIME Members and Partners provide insights and direction to serve their interests in a variety of ways, including digital healthcare innovation journalism, professional development events and program facilitation, and on-demand educational development through CHIME Innovation. 

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