Six keys for optimizing physician workflow

Better workflow helps doctors and nurses complete tasks quicker and can raise morale

Six keys for optimizing physician workflow

Precision medicine could hold the promise of enabling physicians to compare the data and treatment approaches for patients with similar conditions and similar genetic profiles. Technology also could identify effective treatments and even projected costs.

But to achieve these future promises of precision medicine, much basic blocking and tackling must first occur, says Ed Corbett, MD, medical officer at Health Catalyst, which develops applications to enhance workflow and predictive analytics. In a report, the company offers options to improve workflow, improve physician morale and improve productivity.

The present state of physician workflow

Current workflow scenarios do not support a good connection between what a physician sees when using electronic health records and the analytic data needed to improve care—they need the data to make better decisions presented in their regular workflow within the EHR. Even better would be to have a hybridized interface of what the EHR and analytics currently show.

Data is the workflow fuel of the future

Physicians need to have data influence the care of patients in many different ways. The industry is entering the era of the empowered patient, a new era in which software and analytics can be used to influence patient and physician decision-making.

How to improve workflow across the continuum of care

As reimbursement models shift to paying physicians for taking care of populations of patients, clinicians need a broader view of their patient panels. The use of data and analytics to improve workflow must be extended beyond use in an office or hospital to other care settings. For example, to find best practices for identifying and treating pneumonia, MultiCare Health System got feedback from multiple departments—such as inpatient and outpatient settings, transitional care, nursing homes, community physicians, nursing, respiratory, pharmacy, operations, information technology and physical therapy.

Data and analytics alone are not enough

It is one thing to have the ability of data that tells physicians what they need to know about a patient’s condition, as well as the latest research on that condition. The trick then is to get this knowledge to the point of care so doctors can use it as they’re with patients. It is important to take the data and its analysis back into the enterprise data warehouse, link it into the EHR and get the data to the caregivers who need it.

Data needs to focus on the individual patient

While use of data to improve population health is vital, the next step is to use data to impact patient care on a more precise personal level. “We need to focus on getting the right data to the right person at the right time in the right modality,” says Dale Sanders, chief technology officer at Health Catalyst. Providers and other stakeholders must evolve from being data aggregators to decision support entities and integrating the knowledge derived from analytics into healthcare workflows.

Time is ticking to create physician satisfaction

Physicians have little time to treat patients and document the care. They are inundated with alerts, pop-ups and quality metrics. A doctor looking in the EHR is checking that immunizations, screenings and labs are done, and trying to fill every care gap. It all takes time, says Sanders.

“When we talk about adding something to the existing workflow, we have to think in terms of how we will accept and implement it. What impact will it have on our workflow and satisfaction? How will it help us be more efficient so we can spend more time with patients? Improved physician satisfaction translates to improved patient satisfaction.”

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