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The Compressus blog is where we share the industry expertise of our leaders and present our views in improving patient health and protecting their safety.

What’s Workflow Got To Do With It

Janine Broda

As you are most probably already aware, the face of healthcare is rapidly changing! Organizations are now forced to get comfortable with terms such as “workflow”, “interoperability”, and “collaboration”. In fact, one of the top 10 healthcare searches on Google is “What is Workflow?”

Why exactly is workflow the new buzzword in the industry? Is it because no one really knows exactly what workflow entails? Is it because someone thinks that maybe, just maybe there is something behind workflow and its benefits?

I can tell you that from here on out workflow will have a significant impact on how Healthcare will address the challenges facing the rapidly evolving industry paradigm. The new face of healthcare is concerned with increasing volumes, reducing costs, embracing growth, bettering patient care, and improving outcomes. The real dilemma is that no one is quite sure how to effectively address workflow and how to make it work for them…instead of feverishly working at it with very few measurable results.

A few years ago, the focus was purely on integration. The market was convinced that if we could connect data silos we would win the battle. This became even more evident when government incentives and penalties for failing to adopt EMR’s and meet the standards of HIPAA became rampant. The idea was that such actions would level the playing field and reduce the costs associated with billing. Numerous organizations jumped on the bandwagon and the number of HL-7 integration engines have increased by x% over the past 5 years.

Unfortunately, the market soon learned that integrating systems was not enough. No matter how beneficial the convergence of systems was, something significant was missing. The core of integration is addressing the multiple disparate data in healthcare and fusing them together in a manner that makes sense. The problem is, healthcare at large is in chaos with continuous growth, mergers, consolidation, new payment models, ever decreasing reimbursement, new regulations, ambiguous patient volume demands, difficult patient care decisions, and the list goes on.

The one constant in healthcare is CHANGE! This is where workflow comes in. Unless workflow inefficiencies are addressed, it doesn’t matter how “integrated” an organization or healthcare system becomes.

Workflow is nothing new…it exists in every business. Most industries refer to workflow as the many business processes that make the world go-round. Even for a single human being, workflows exist for everything from one’s morning routine to how a bank processes an ATM request. Once an individual or business creates a routine, it becomes ingrained on the “psyche”. It is a true challenge for people and businesses alike to change their habits (i.e. workflow), but it can be done!

Within most healthcare organizations, the necessary change is the revolution of workflow among disparate IT systems and configuring them to work together in harmony. Up to this point, accomplishing this task has been time consuming, resource intensive and costly.

In order to meet the demands of the chaotic healthcare marketplace and stay competitive, a new approach to workflow needs to be implemented. Other industries have embraced business process management…and I am boldly suggesting that Business Process Management time has come for healthcare. This includes the automation of workflow and an intensive investigation into what processes and procedures are creating costly bottlenecks within an organization.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, we will be sharing the benefits of Business Process Management and how it can fuel future successes within the healthcare industry. Stay tuned…and dare to embrace the future!

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