Health Data Management wrote a brief set of top level tips to be considered to improve EHR interoperability.
Tip #3 (“Embrace user centered design”) is critical to the success of any guided workflow. Quoting the tip, “Most of the criticism and dissatisfaction with EHRs stem from enforced workflows and user interfaces. Healthcare organizations will need to invest in providing flexibility that reflects actual care processes rather than institutional ideas of how care should be delivered.”
Our experience at Optimium Health is that this particular piece of advice is the most important of the series. Whether the application is from the EHR vendor, an ISV such as ourselves, or an in-house developed application the overall success will be determined by the level of engagement with the “front line” staff during the specification and development process.
By embracing the end user, one can create a workflow that is natural and very easy to in-service. The workflow can then create a standard of care that requires no “work arounds” that are so often seen in applications built without the experience of the end user. Of course, blindly implementing an existing workflow without consideration of the “why” of certain steps/flows is also problematic. Creating an assisted workflow of a bad or sub-optimal process just results in a bad or sub-optimal electronic form of the same. Changing a workflow and adding best practice steps can get you to a more elegant and sustainable endpoint.
One addition to the tip is to be on the lookout for the following: Adjunct spreadsheets, colored sticky labels, colored file folders, and sorted piles of folders. These are all indicators of a workflow that is crying out for additional help. Of course, this means that you have to be out and about with the front line staff to get this close to the care experience; but this is a topic for another post…