Hospital Workflow Software
Hospital workflow software is used for workflow automation. Workflow is a sequence of actions, procedures, and processes involved in getting a job or task completed. Workflows detail the path of orchestrated and repeatable actions required to see a task through to completion. Workflow automation, as the name suggests, is the use of technology such as computer software to automate some or all of the process to improve efficiency. In healthcare, streamlining workflows can improve outcomes and reduce costs.
Hospital Workflow Software Helps Streamline Everyday Workflows
There are many repetitive tasks that must be performed in healthcare, all of which can take up a considerable amount of a clinician’s time. These tasks, such as completing paperwork, are critical to everyday workflows yet they ultimately reduce the amount of face to face time with patients. The tasks cannot be avoided, but they can be automated to various degrees.
Through workflow automation, clinical workflows can be streamlined, and administration time can be kept to a minimum, which means more time can be spent providing quality care to patients. This can be achieved with hospital workflow software. For example, hospital workflow software can be used to automate the admission process in hospitals. Before a patient can be admitted, a series of processes must be completed, including identity and health insurance checks. Staff must be notified that a patient has arrived so preparations can be made. Processes must be completed before the patient can be admitted, during which time the patient is made to wait.
The admission process can be automated using hospital workflow software at patient check-in kiosks and paperwork can be completed electronically prior to the appointment via a patient portal when the patient books the appointment. In addition to helping to streamline workflows and reduce administration time, hospital workflow software benefits the patient by reducing wait times.
Workflow Automation Improves the Efficiency of Healthcare Delivery
Hospital workflow software allows administration staff and clinicians to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. The software could allow a task to be completed in less time, or with less effort. Through automation less time could be spent waiting for something to happen, or for someone else to complete a task that is essential to the workflow. A software solution could have benefits for the patient and improve satisfaction, as in the above example, or benefit the hospital by reducing the cost of delivering clinical services.
Hospital workflow software has many uses in all aspects of hospital operations. The software can be used to reduce wait times and delays with admissions and discharges, onboarding staff and new patients can be accelerated, and workflow automation could reduce IT helpdesk response times.
One of the most important uses of healthcare workflow software that arguably has the biggest impact on clinicians is Clinical Communication and Collaboration (CC&C) software.
Hospital Workflow Software Helps Clinicians Provide Care to More Patients in Less Time
One of the biggest drains of productivity in hospitals is outmoded forms of communication such as pagers, fax machines, and email. These communication methods frequently cause delays in providing care to patients, yet they are still extensively used in hospitals. Pagers are relied on by 1 in 4 hospitals, 90% of hospitals use faxes, and email is extensively used, even though emails are often missed and have to be chased up with phone calls.
Text message-based communication systems are much more efficient. They allow healthcare professionals to communicate concise information that can be acted on immediately. CC&C solutions streamline communication and help to make sure the right information is sent to the right person at the right time, which improves patient safety, reduces the potential for medical errors, and improves outcomes.
For example, a nurse identifies a serious change in a patient’s vital signs. The nurse could alert a physician via text message via the CC&C system. The message would be delivered instantly, could be read by the physician, and a response could be sent quickly. The issue could be escalated through the same system and a voice or video call could be made. The CC&C platform would show when the message has been read confirming the physician has been made aware of the issue. Sending a page would take longer to receive a response. Since there is no context to the page, if multiple pages are received at the same time, prioritising call backs is difficult. Follow up calls may need to be made to chase up the physician if a response to the page is not forthcoming and there could be a considerable delay in the patient receiving the appropriate care.
In this example, the CC&C solution saves the nurse time, the physician time, and the patient receives the immediate care they need. CC&C solutions also integrate with other systems such as scheduling and the hospital directory to ensure the right person is contacted without having to check a printed schedule to find out who the on-call cardiologist is. The solutions also integrate with EHRs, and alerts can be generated the second lab test results are in. Integrations are also possible with many other hospital systems such as nurse call stations.
Hospital workflow software is not used to tell healthcare employees how to do their jobs, it is about making sure that their time is spent in the best possible way and helps them provide quality care to patients. By using software solutions to automate healthcare workflows, more patients can be seen in less time. Through improvements in efficiency, the cost of healthcare provision can be reduced, patient safety improved, patient throughput can be accelerated, and patient and employee satisfaction are likely to improve.