Have you ever stopped to analyze the workflow of your clinic? I mean, really stopped to analyze how patients, paperwork and files go in and out of your clinic.
Many clinics don’t spend much time analyzing their workflow process to see if there’s a better way to do things. The reason is because these processes and workflows are done so often that they’re routine; that is, you don’t even have to think about them.
However, analyzing your clinic’s workflow is incredibly important, and you need to do it before you go out shopping for an EHR system. Why?
Because the EHR system will only do what you tell it to do. If you don’t fully understand the workflow and information processing of your clinic, your EHR system won’t provide you with the highest level of efficiency possible. And, that’s only going to shortchange the staff, and your bottom line.
There are several different ways to analyze your clinic’s workflow. And, writing out the steps of a process or workflow is one of the easiest ways to see how your clinic is really operating.
Creating a flow chart is usually your best option. Flow charts help you chart every step of a process, and see where improvements might be made.
Every step gets its own box in the flow chart. And if several options are possible for a step, each option must be explored.
For instance, if you want to analyze patient flow. A few of the flow chart steps might be as follows:
Step 1: Patient checks in
Step 2: Patient files are pulled and billing info is verified
Step 3: Current healthcare eligibility is verified.
Step 4: If co-pay is required, it’s collected. If not, patient returns to waiting room.
Step 5: Front desk lets the MA know patient is here.
Step 6: The MA takes the patient records and escorts patient to his/her patient room.
You get the picture here. Every step of a patient’s visit should be mapped out so you can see exactly what happens. As you review the steps, ask yourself why each one is done this way.
For instance, what information does your patient have to provide during check-in? Is there a way to get this information in advance?
How does the clinical staff know a patient is waiting? Is there a better/more efficient way to let them know?
How do your doctors provide educational information to patients?
If a test is administered during an exam, or before the physician sees the patient, how are the results communicated to the physician? Is there a faster/more efficient way to get these results?
Who performs minor procedures, such as immunizations? Is there anyone who could do this more efficiently?
Flow charts can often help you spot problems and bottlenecks you didn’t even realize you had. And the more you uncover these problems, the more you can design your EHR system to overcome them. Make sure for each step you document who is doing the task, what tools are required and, if possible, how long it typically takes. Again, it’s also highly important to analyze each step to see if it could be improved.
Although it seems like a lot of work, all this information will help your EHR system be more productive and efficient for your clinic!