Are Handoffs Your Nemesis?

Are handoffs your nemesis – an ongoing problem:

The ongoing Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare’s Hand-off Communication project found that more than 37% of hand-offs were defective, and 21% of those initiating the hand-off felt a sense of dissatisfaction regarding the quality of the hand-off (JCCTH, 2010). A breakdown in communication was a leading cause of problems during hand-offs. The full report can be read by clicking this link.

Solutions can work in conjunction with your EHR:

Albeit the EHR has helped some with this issue, they have not proven to be the panacea that was expected. They do a good job of documenting patient information, one patient at a time, but are not so effective when dealing with multiple people and workflows. By setting up a fail-safe process for sending and receiving hand-offs, using proven tools, much of the problems that cause hand-off failures could be eliminated.

Healthcare can learn from other industries:

Although the delivery of healthcare is somewhat unique with a complex set of problems and issues involving multiple people, departments and technologies, it is not so exclusive that it cannot learn and borrow from other industries. Other industries introduced Lean, which is a proven methodology that healthcare organizations are beginning to embrace. Why not take that one step further and consider the use of “workflow tools” used in other industries to assist in “hand-offs” between systems, departments and people? Simply put, orchestrating hand-offs with the use of a technology overlay could greatly improve patient safety as well as increasing financial benefit.

To learn more about the clinical workflow solutions Optimium Health offers please contact: vicki@www.optimiumhealth.com.

Stop the Insanity!

When will healthcare organizations realize that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again but expecting a different result? My prediction: The smart ones already have – they have significantly reduced patient wait times, increased on-time operating room starts, and improved revenue capture by improving how they do what they do, not just by improving what they do. 

Unfortunately these organizations are still in the minority. Need some proof? Wasteful spending in healthcare systems has been calculated at up to $1.2 trillion of the $2.2 trillion spent nationally, more than half of all health spending (source: The Institute of Medicine). And the average operating room starts on-time only 27% of the time which is clearly disastrous. According to the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) “…improving throughput by just one additional procedure per day per OR suite can generate anywhere from $4M to $7M in additional revenue for the average-sized organization”.

Stop the insanity: Reducing overhead will not solve the issue of waste reduction. However, it will provide a short term boost to the bottom line until the cost of missed steps and mistakes are added back into the profit equation. 

Stop the insanity: Giving already over worked personnel more responsibility will not solve the issue of waste reduction. However, it will give the illusion of efficiency until the strain on people’s capacity to do the critical things well becomes compromised. 

For these reasons, and many more too numerous to list here, my colleagues and I have dedicated ourselves to “stopping the insanity”. We believe that by automating clinical workflows that are largely labor intensive, paper driven and leave room for errors, omissions and duplication of effort, an organization can improve its financial performance while enhancing patient safety and patient and employee satisfaction. Importantly, we also believe that simplicity can be brought to complex workflow environments with repeatable, measurable and sustainable results. 

As part of this commitment, we will post blogs with the aim to open a dialogue with, and between, our readers. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but we do have a firm grasp on many of the issues organizations face and are working on solutions to solve these problems. With your help we can “stop the insanity” together and make our healthcare system, and potentially your practice or hospital department, more efficient and effective. 

Future topics include: What EHR Implementation Has Taught Us; Accessibility, Security, and the Cloud; Workflow Automation as a Human Resource Tool; The Rising Importance of Checklists & Alerts.