What We Can Learn About Workflows from Electronic Health Records
Electronic health records (EHRs) are electronic versions of patient medical histories. They’re not quite the same as electronic medical records, which are specific to a given doctor’s practice. Rather, EHRs are, in an ideal world, a single source of truth regarding a patient’s entire medical history, across providers.
The gargantuan task of converting hand-written (or hand-typed) medical records to electronic form hasn’t been easy, and as much as medical professionals like the idea of EHRs in theory, many of them have grumbled of the reality of implementing them.
However, other industries can learn from the conversion of medical records from clunky paper files to electronic records. What benefits of EHRs can businesses in other industries expect from converting formerly paper-based records into a carefully thought-out, electronic format? Here are a few.
Reducing Critical Errors
Errors in, say, shipping an item in blue instead of red are aggravating, and cost people time, but errors in medical records can be life-threatening. Part of the promise of EHRs is in the form of standardization and error reduction. With full implementation of EHRs, the risk of misinterpreting a doctor’s handwriting essentially disappears. Furthermore, since data entered once does not have to be manually entered again, there are fewer “transition points” where data can be misinterpreted or entered incorrectly.
Streamlining the Secure Sharing of Data
What if, in a medical emergency far from home, your emergency provider could quickly gain access to your health record, as maintained by your personal family doctor at home? It could save tremendous amounts of time and help doctors make smart decisions that minimize risks. A drug allergy, for instance, may be flagged in an EHR, even though you have forgotten about it in the stress of the situation.
And since businesses in the medical field must adhere to strict HIPAA confidentiality regulations, EHRs emphasize secure sharing and access only to those who require the information. Whatever your industry, chances are you want your automated workflows to only be accessed by people who are authorized to participate. EHRs show that this can be done effectively.
Defined Responsibilities Are Key
The key to any automated workflow going smoothly is defined responsibilities for workflow participants, and successful medical practices define responsibilities clearly and carefully. For example, a reception clerk may be responsible for confirming insurance coverage, information which is then shared with the coding and billing personnel who prepare bills and statements. A doctor or nurse practitioner may enter a diagnosis from a standard menu so that it is assigned its appropriate billing code and patients and insurers are billed correctly. While your workflow software will differ in some ways from EHR software, the concept of defined responsibilities is the same, and it’s what keeps workflows smoothly operational.
The Importance of Training
Using an EHR successfully requires that users be trained properly. Automated workflows in other industries may be simple or complicated, but either way, it’s important that workflow users are trained in what workflows are, and how their part in a workflow ensures success. Your choice of workflow software will have tremendous influence over how easy it is to train people to use the workflows. Great workflow software offers flexibility and transparency so that workflows are designed precisely for the people who will be using them, and so that they make sense in the context of the particular work process.
PerfectForms is workflow software that empowers businesses like yours to design, test, implement, and refine automated workflows that are customized to your needs exactly. Whether you operate a service business, a manufacturing business, a school system, or a business in some other industry, PerfectForms gives you the power and flexibility to design custom workflows without having to write programming code. We encourage you to browse through some of our many case studies to see for yourself how powerful automated workflows can be in transforming businesses, reducing errors, maintaining strong security, and saving time and money.