You've probably heard the adage, "work smarter, not harder." Workflow improvements, such as electronic health records (EHR), allow nurses to spend more time with patients and less time at the computer. Technological resources can streamline workflow at the point-of-care, improve teamwork, provide material for efficient nursing research, and help nurse managers track staff proficiency and provide standardized procedures.
The need to think about workflow design is pressing due to several factors in healthcare, including:
EHR systems allow nurses quick access to patient information at the point of care that can also map drug information and customize patient handouts. Before implementing information technology in a health care environment, it is important to have an understanding of processes and information flows. In addition, the decision makers must consider the various roles in the different departments, and consider ideas from multiple sources. Each department and role may have a different perspective.
Valuable information can be lost when poor workflow impedes communication and coordination of care. Characteristics of a poorly functioning work process include unnecessary pauses and rework, delays, established workarounds, gaps where steps are often omitted, and a process that participants feel is illogical. A good workflow will lead to care that is delivered more consistently, reliably, safely, and in compliance with standards of practice.
Workflow processes are maps that direct the care team on how to accomplish its goals. Nurses can work as a team to create department-specific folders online to store valuable information such as links to research articles, images, alerts, other information needed on the floor, and customized education packets. When communication is smooth, working together as a team comes easily.
According to www.healthit.gov, based on the size of the health system and the scope of their EHR implementation, benefits for large hospitals can range from $37 to $59 million over a five-year period in addition to incentive payments. Savings are primarily attributed to automating time consuming paper-driven and labor-intensive tasks. Using EHR results in reduced transcription costs; reduced chart pull, storage, and re-filing costs; improved and more accurate reimbursement coding with improved documentation for highly compensated codes; and reduced medical errors through better access to patient data and error prevention alerts.
Another unique aspect of technology at the bedside allows nurse managers to provide their nursing staff with standardized procedures and track their staff’s proficiency in skills and procedures with skill competency checklists. This ensures that procedures are being performed the right way.
Patient-centered care is defined as "care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs and values, and ensuring that patient's values guide all clinical decisions."
Healthcare organizations that are patient-centered engage patients as partners in their care. The evidence for principles and practice of patient-centered care has resulted in increasing recognition of, and greater focus on, the engagement of patients, and the value and benefit of patient engagement.
Implementing enhanced workflow strategies will build teamwork, save money, improve patient care and ultimately, outcomes.
For further information on how the Lippincott Solutions suite of institutional, evidence-based decision support software can help your facility optimize clinical workflow and drive more reimbursable patient outcomes, click HERE.