Prioritize workflow during HIT implementation

For providers asked to use new technologies like electronic health records and analytics tools, workflow impact, no doubt, is a top of mind issue. Transitioning away from familiar and comfortable practices and adopting new habits is one of the biggest obstacles an organization can face.

In a recent interview with the Institute for Heath Technology Transformation, Stephen Beck, chief medical informatics officer at Cincinnati-based Catholic Health Partners, said that's exactly how he approaches his organization's IT implementation processes. For instance, during Catholic's EHR implementation, Beck said he asked his employees to anticipate across-the-board changes--everything from physical movements to communications processes.

"Continual reinforcement of the new efficient workflows helps drive this change," he said. "A small change in habit, such as always using an admission order set, makes subsequent changes easier over time."

Beck also said he preaches shared responsibility and task ownership at Catholic. Administrative and clinical leaders, he said, must recognize the importance of cooperation with each other, as well as with other staff members.

"We are working together for the benefit of patient care," Beck said.

Display of information, Beck added, also is vital to ensuring successful technology use, once new systems are in place. When providers primarily used paper, he said, they automatically knew where to look for certain types of information. With digital systems, though, things have changed.

"Having the flexibility to change a recent value arrangement from the left to the right of the screen can make all the difference," Beck said. "We can avoid [some] errors by simply displaying the critical information logically, and making it easy to remove contextual filters to see more information."

At FierceHealthIT's breakfast panel discussion at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference in New Orleans earlier this month, several providers talked about the importance of workflow for using predictive analytics. Benjamin Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Medical Center, talked about his experience both in creating predictive models for providers to use and in convincing those same providers of their importance. He said that once physicians are convinced of the importance of a new tool, they usually can't live without it.

"You can't do enough to get information to them fast enough," Horne said.

To learn more:
- read the full iHT2 interview

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