October 24, 2017
Enhancing Patient Care Workflow

Healthcare – the business of caring for people. As in any thriving business, optimal quality in the midst of efficiency is the hallmark of success. Within the healthcare industry, patient-centered quality care is the goal, and one that can only be achieved through careful coordination of all its necessary parts. Patient care is no longer about one physician successfully solving a patient’s issues. The monumental task of keeping a patient alive and healthy for the long run requires an efficient healthcare workflow that ensures patient outcomes that are effective and lasting. This requires teamwork and smart allocation of tasks to the available skills resource to produce clear documentation, organization, and fluid communication throughout an extensive support system that has the capacity to provide continuous patient care.

Here are several important aspects of patient care workflow that should be taken into consideration when attempting to optimize how your hospital, practice, or organization is run.

Take care of your patients

Of utmost importance in the business of patient care is the treatment of the patient, which shouldn’t be hindered by organizational inefficiencies, especially ones that can be resolved. Smooth coordination at every step in the care process can be enhanced greatly by easing communication between the people responsible for keeping track of a patient’s health. This can happen in various ways: through careful planning, using documentation support to ensure clear diagnosis and treatment records, using a valid and usable system like EHRs to organize data, and using a support system of people to allow for task allocation to the people who are specialized to give it.

Take care of your documentation

As you must have heard time and time again, accuracy in medical records is of utmost importance. It is the foundation through which the EHR vehicle is used to understand a patient’s clinical history and current condition and allows for informed patient treatment decisions, as long as the information is provided in a clear and understandable way. Medical scribes can help facilitate the process of accurate and clear EHR documentation by assisting physicians with documenting patient visits on the spot, thus relieving physicians with data entry burdens. With precise documentation, patient information is easier to understand when patient care transitions from one healthcare provider to another.

Take care of transitions

Paying attention to post-acute care is also a vital part of continuing care, and without doing this, patients have a greater risk of ending up right back where they started – in the hospital – for acute conditions that maybe could have been prevented by closer monitoring, communication, and compliance. Not only is this bad for the patient, but it is also costly for the healthcare organization. To prevent the vicious cycle of readmissions that impacts both patient and healthcare system, services such as CareThrough navigators can be used to help bridge clear communication between healthcare provider and patient at every level of the care process, whether this is urgent or chronic care. In this way, physicians get their message and instructions across to the patient and the patient is informed and educated on his/her condition by a constant support team.

Take care of your IT: EHR optimization

Lastly, it makes sense to take care of the main system that harbors the key to good care management. Although EHRs have been a source of both frustration and relief to various physicians and healthcare organizations, it can be tweaked to enhance workflow if one pays attention to the following:

  • Boosting usability of system: Feedback from clinicians on the usability of their IT system (mainly the infamous EHR) is crucial to EHR optimization, since they are the ones that will be using the data to treat their patients and thus provide the best feedback on the relevancy of the data collection and how it can help to improve their care methods.
  • Increasing interoperability of the system: When communication between different EHR systems from different levels of care (i.e. acute care vs. post-acute) are enhanced, this allows for better communication and increases the potential to treat patients efficiently and optimally, without getting bogged down with technical issues that can hinder correct and usable content from being transferred in a comprehensible way from one healthcare provider to another.
  • Using data analytics to help maximize profitability: The rationale here is to improve work while reducing costs. By collecting EHR clinical data and comparing these against financial data, it is possible to see what areas can be improved, to assess what treatments are an investment despite high costs, and what things should be changed or removed.

Remember that optimal patient care requires effort from an entire network of healthcare-related personnel, all specialized in different things that contribute to the ongoing health of the individual. The elements that we have addressed here merge together clinical examination and treatment with medical documentation, medical billing, and continuous care that potentially lead to greater satisfaction for both the patient as well as the provider.