In my recent blog post, ‘Why process improvement, technology and common sense are critical to patient safety,’ I shared three articles illustrating how process, technology and critical thinking all have a role in ensuring quality of care. Today’s post follows the same model to examine how process improvement and technology work together to impact clinician satisfaction.
The Harvard Business Review published a story in March 2018 titled ‘Why Process is Health Care’s Biggest Problem.’ The article illustrates how software needs to be paired with process improvement to remove unnecessary variation and make it easier for clinicians to follow best practices. According to the article, “It only takes 10 minutes of direct observation of a nurse in a hospital to understand care-delivery processes are not standardized and are dependent on individuals, not systems.” That variability is inefficient and frustrating for clinicians – and poses greater risk for error. More importantly, with the lack of standardization, there’s no opportunity for improvement of the process. The solution put forth by the article’s authors includes use of technology to support well-designed care processes – as long as those processes are owned and driven by the clinical teams who are doing the work. The article points to use of design thinking and experimentation to drive innovation and offers two examples of how technology can help support disruptive innovation in healthcare.
Another recent article examines low-value alerts and electronic health record (EHR) system notifications causing alert fatigue and leading to burnout and dissatisfaction among clinicians. Published in BMJ Quality & Safety Journal and titled ‘Impact of a national QI programme on reducing electronic health record notifications to clinicians,’ the study looked at EHR-related information overload within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Seventy percent of primary care practitioners in this study characterized the volume of EHR-based notifications as unmanageable. The study reported that implementation of a quality improvement program involving standardization, measurement and training successfully reduced EHR notifications by nearly 10 percent – potentially saving 1.5 hours per week per physician that could be used in a more constructive manner to improve patient care, and in the end clinician satisfaction as well. At LogicStream Health, we have witnessed more significant reductions as customers using our software to streamline EHR workflow and optimize content have consistently reduced clinical alert firings by 30 to 50 percent. As you can imagine, those results have a significant positive effect on clinician engagement. You can read more about it at on The Platform page now.
Further supporting the importance of process, an article in Healthcare Informatics examines what Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase may encounter as they enter the healthcare space. Published in February 2018, the piece, titled ‘Ikispiration: Why Apple, Amazon, JP Morgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway Can Easily Fail in Healthcare,’ observes that process improvement and technology solutions must go hand-in-hand in order to be successful. While welcoming the business prowess of these leaders from other industries to help transform healthcare, the article’s author cautions, “Deploying technology solutions is pretty worthless if you don’t address underlying processes (typically workflow) and people’s needs, motivations and culture through substantial change management efforts.”
Process improvement isn’t simple, but it can happen much more efficiently and effectively when driven by clinicians who have the right technology tools to access real-time data, identify patterns and put instant, highly actionable insights to use to control vital clinical processes. By streamlining EHR workflow, optimizing content to reduce clinical alert firings and better managing order set libraries to reduce confusion, hospital systems can significantly improve clinician engagement and satisfaction. Learn more about process improvement by downloading our company overview flyer using the button below.
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Brita Hansen, M.D., is Chief Medical Officer of LogicStream Health. She began her career as an internal medicine hospitalist physician after receiving her undergraduate degree at NYU and her Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. She served as Chief Health Information Officer for the Hennepin County Medical Center before joining LogicStream Health.