Health Information Management

Tip of the week: Analyze pre-EHR workflow

HIM-HIPAA Insider, October 23, 2007

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Being able to articulate your current workflow-the systematic process that you use to perform a specific task-is important because it will help ensure that you replicate the same process as you move toward an electronic environment. Consider the following tips to help you get started:

  • Allow adequate time. "Begin planning 12 months ahead of time. It will probably take several months to go through an average-size hospital's operations and one week for every major process area. And that is just to review current procedures with adequate depth," says Darice Grzybowski, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA, president of HIMentors, LLC, in LaGrange, IL.
  • Don't confuse workflow with work queues. Vendors often use the term workflow to mean the way in which a piece of software routes or queues work to an employee. This is different from a workflow analysis, which is a high-level operational assessment.
  • Start with a high-level flow chart. If you identify tasks that you think should run more smoothly, create a more detailed flow chart. "Use the functional flow chart if you have a lot of handoffs, or when you use different pieces of software that need to be integrated to the new system so that you can show how the work moves between people and software," says Lynn Kuehn, RHIA, CCS-P, FAHIMA, consultant with Kuehn Consulting in Waukesha, WI.
  • Involve the individuals who assign, perform, and receive the work. "There are also touch points outside the HIM department that are important, such as the patient registration desk, the business office, chargemaster maintenance, nursing, physicians, and information technology," Grzybowski says. "You need to consider their needs, too."

This tip was adapted from the October 2007 issue of Medical Records Briefing. For more information and additional tips, click here.

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