A Step-by-Step Guide To EHR Workflow Analysis

Optimized EHR workflow means having the right data at the right moment so that the person doing a task or step can move the process forward to completion. To do this, healthcare organizations need to step back and look at how the work is being done. In the EHR workflow analysis, also called process analysis, the goal is to identify, prioritize, and organize the tasks and data needed to accomplish the desired outcome of a clinical process.

When it comes to identifying and choosing new information technology, process analysis and redesign are often neglected or overlooked. However, they are essential because of the complexity of most healthcare procedures. A technologically superior product might sit on a shelf for a long time because environmental factors (people and process issues) prevent it from achieving its full potential.

Research states that complex intersystem dependencies, software usability issues, and integration problems slow down the incorporation of EHR. Workflow analysis reduces these risks and enhances the chances of success in EHR implementation.

Process of EHR Workflow Analysis

1. Organize a Multidisciplinary Team

A multidisciplinary team is a set of experts working together to solve a specific problem. By bringing together a diverse group of people, you can expand the conversation, solve issues, and achieve faster results. The concerted effort of many hands on deck is transformative in healthcare organizations.

Sometimes, clinical processes begin and finish in the same department. If the process involves other departments, then a multidisciplinary group documents the entire process. Everyone is involved in getting an accurate picture of data and reaching a conclusion. For example, if a patient has come in for a routine checkup and the doctor finds issues with his heart, then the same patient is sent to a cardiologist for further treatment. Here, both the general physician and cardiologist are tasked with entering patient data in the EHR and they both work together for effective patient care.

2. Reach for an EHR Developer or a Vendor

EHR workflow analysis can be tracked based on whether it is custom-made or obtained as existing software from a vendor.

Customized EHR software comes with features that are specialty-specific or made for healthcare organizations to support certain workflows. Steps to take if you’ve got customized EHR software are:

  1. Document how the information flows from physician to physician, including pharmacists and lab clinicians.
  2. Determine the importance of each feature in the information flow: how it is used, benefits, and who uses which feature.
  3. After attaining the above data, identify gaps like time taken to book appointments, errors during data transfer between physicians, etc.
  4. Once gaps are identified, start improving the workflow.

An example of custom EHR software workflow analysis could be tracking the efficiency of a physician who uses voice recognition to make patient notes. The voice recognition feature is custom-made to suit the provider’s requirements in terms of speed, language, and use of jargon. It is a great way to enhance productivity and maintain a steady workflow.

Next, if you own an off-the-shelf EHR, then reach out to an EHR vendor, specifically to the one who has offered your EHR software. Electronic health record vendors provide a worksheet with questions on workflow or offer tools for workflow analysis.

Ready-made tools and sheets help quicken the process of EHR workflow analysis and get a detailed report on how things function within each department. Based on the report, you can work towards improving the workflow in the healthcare organization.

3. Evaluate EHR Workflow Outcome

The next step in an EHR workflow analysis is to determine whether the current workflow is delivering the desired result. To do this, you need to look at the workflow from the user’s point of view (POV). This is the point of view of the person who gets the output from the workflow, whether it’s internal or external. To work within this point of view, you’ll need to answer questions like:

  1. Does this workflow meet the expectations of this person?
  2. Does this workflow deliver the desired outcome consistently?

If the answer is no, then you need to look more closely at the tasks, information, and activities that comprise the workflow. Other key performance indicators (KPIs) may also be used to measure the efficiency of the workflow. These metrics can be quantitative or qualitative. For instance, does the workflow generate the correct number of outcomes in a given time frame? Does this workflow cause frustration for the team members who perform the tasks and activities?

4. Map Current Workflow

Now it’s time to “get into the nitty-gritty” of the EHR workflow analysis. For now, the emphasis is on deepening our understanding of workflow: all the people, processes, systems, data, tasks, and actions that turn workflow input into workflow output. We’ll also look at the order of steps within a workflow.

EHR is integrated with various features and functionalities, vendors can start by mapping the current workflow of each of these features. For example, the journey of e-prescription: starts with a physician prescribing medications and ends up with a pharmacist, from where patient collects their medicines. Another workflow could be appointment bookings: patients book online slots and physicians manage their work routine as per the appointments. All of these workflows can be documented during the analysis process.

5. Data Collection

Now that a comprehensive overview of workflow and workflow-related issues is available, it is essential to begin collecting additional data on subprocesses to gain a better understanding of the underlying cause of the issue (and its implications).

To improve the EHR workflow, two primary data sources should be collected: quantitative data (i.e. numerical data) which will emphasize the negative impacts of the current workflow and the potential for improvement; and qualitative data (figures) which will improve the comprehension of the issue and enable organizations to investigate further.

6. Analyze the Data

Once the data has been collected, combine the quantitative findings with the qualitative findings to evaluate the data. While consolidating the data, take note of the sub-processes that are causing delays or leading to a (high) cost or time burden. These sub-processes may need to be addressed for one of the following reasons:

  1. They are having a significant effect on the workflow’s performance, so reduce the costs associated with them.
  2. They are having an insignificant effect on the performance of an EHR workflow, so consider eliminating them.

7. Make Changes to Improve the EHR Workflow

Once the mapping of the workflow has been completed, the subsequent step will be to assess each element and transition that results in the workflow result. (It may be beneficial to work backward from the input to the output). During this process, it is important to identify any areas of the flow that require further refinement or need to be completely reworked.

In particular, attention should be paid to the EHR workflow handoffs. These points in the flow where work items are exchanged are prone to delays and communication issues and can provide valuable opportunities for optimizing EHR workflow analysis.

If you’re looking for an EHR system that offers you exceptional features, great usability, and compliance, then connect with Arkenea, a leading healthcare software development company that builds and delivers state-of-the-art healthcare software.