Much has been written about preparing for meaningful use, such as implementing a certified electronic health record. Then what? The objective of meaningful use is to improve patient outcomes, which requires much more than a certified IT system. To truly achieve meaningful use, operations need to be in place to deliver meaningful care. I would submit that workflow, dataflow, operations and processes need to come to the forefront during the preparation for meaningful use.
In his recent book, Flash Foresight, Daniel Burrus comments that the only thing you can depend on in business or life is transformation - the process of continuously reinventing and redefining. Healthcare is on an accelerated path of transformation. It is more than systems and incentives. The change management aspect alone is a steep uphill climb.
To position your organization for this transformation, and the delivery of meaningful care, you need to reach into the operations, processes, security, access, quality of care and delivery. How? Here are four action steps that you can take now:
1. Check current workflow/operations: Is the current daily operational flow (patient, nurse, doctor, etc) effective and efficient in the “step by step” process? Is the patient experience positive? Determine this down to whether the computer blocks the patient from the doctor during a visit.
2. Compare your training material to users’ workflows: Training should be more than learning how to use the technology; it should be about how to perform the job more effectively using the new technology. Therefore, users such as physicians, clinicians and staff should be involved in the curriculum development. Their workflows should be reflected in the training. Training should be scenario-based.
3. Review your help desk/ support structures: IT support needs to revolve around the patient-physician experience. Support staff needs to understand not only the application, but the users’ operations and processes. A higher percentage of support calls are related to operations versus applications. “How do I provide the best care and experience for the patient?” is the question that must be answered.
4. Assess data capture processes and training: To report on meaningful use, and to assess whether patient outcomes are improving, the appropriate data must be captured throughout the encounter. Ensure that there is a process in place that will meet this objective, and that staff are adequately trained in this area.
Yes, healthcare reform will be an iterative, sometimes awkward and stressful process. But there is no reason not to set the foundation now for an easier transition. Start tomorrow to review and set up processes, procedures and training that will not only provide the capacity to report on meaningful use criteria, but will also enable your organization to provide meaningful delivery of quality healthcare.
Rob Drewniak is Vice President, Strategic & Advisory Services at Hayes Management Consulting. Prior to Hayes, he was a senior consultant at Accenture and Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC). He also served as director and vice president in two western region hospitals.