Why It's Easier to Create Efficient Workflows Than You Might Think
As US health care continues to see an increase in patient conditions such as chronic illnesses, obesity and mental health conditions, care teams need efficiency more than ever before. Attempts to improve patient relationship systems, however, often fall short, leaving more busywork for an already overtaxed health staff.
Care teams aren’t the only ones who experience frustration caused by time-consuming software and spreadsheets. The effects, whether higher costs or fewer patients being reached, are felt all the way from individual patients to program directors. So while the problem itself is complicated, the solution is easier than you might think.
For patients, inefficient workflow among their care team can leave them wondering if their care team really knows them. When a patient is asked to fill out the same form multiple times, or to answer the same questions repeatedly, they may begin to question how their personal data is being handled. This may lead them to be less thorough and helpful with their answers.
This type of inefficient workflow is the exact opposite of what Patient Relationship Management (PRM) software is supposed to do.
Frustration on the Front Lines
Care team members are facing other challenges. In order to simplify processes and procedures, health teams often use tools that aren’t specifically intended for patient relationship management. This often means patching several nonintegrated systems together such as CRMs and other engagement platforms.
However, since these options aren’t customized specifically for health care relationship management, these patchwork systems can often make workflow just as complicated as manual entry. For example, when teams take notes in Google Docs or use internal files, they often have to manually update other programs or spreadsheets to keep complete track of the patient’s health.
With workflow software, teams can track patient interactions. However, these systems fall short when it comes to integration. For instance, a care manager may be looking at notes from a previous conversation while inadvertently missing a patient ticket reporting medical device problems.
And, since non-health care specific systems do not offer complete integration capabilities, it can be difficult for managers to keep track of what’s integrated and what’s not. This can result in missing a patient’s concern, failing to follow up by email and even miscommunication between staff members.
Consider also reports in the form of CSV files uploaded maybe once a month to show patient progress or status. This data is stale and care teams can’t get a real time, comprehensive view of their patient’s health.
Frustrations with patient relationship management vary from team to team, but the core problem remains the same—inefficiency is getting in the way of patient care.
Care managers are expensive, yet vital to care team efficiency. However, when their time is spent primarily on administrative tasks instead of on patient relationships, they can’t maximize their strengths. This results in more work for teams, increasing costs and fewer patients reached—all because of inefficiency.
3 Steps to Simplify Workflows
Care team workflow can be complicated, but in reality the solution might be easier than it seems. Here are three steps that can help create efficiency and scalable health care.
Step 1: Put Information in One Place
Bottom line: if care teams don’t have access to the necessary information, they won’t be able to deliver.
For example, switching between contacts shouldn’t be complicated for care managers. After all, they interact with a different set of patients each day. They need to be able to switch gears quickly (ideally, in just a few seconds) so that each patient’s needs are addressed.
A dashboard overview of each patient allows managers to do this. They can see relevant summaries of patient symptoms as well as be reminded about the topics of their ongoing conversations. This gives care teams an extra level of confidence when interacting with their patients.
Patients will also develop confidence in the level of care they are receiving. Patient relationship management software will allow care teams to maintain personal, meaningful contact with patients while also improving program efficiency.
Step 2: Enable Smart Automation
Because EHR systems automate practically everything and bombard clinicians with alerts and unusable data, there’s skepticism about automation in health care. However, many of the failures in automation are tied to poor software design and an even poorer understanding of care team workflow.
With the right software design, however, more workflow automation means fewer patients will fall through the cracks. For instance, rather than hoping teams follow up with their patients, program directors can track each patient interaction through the receipt of an automated message. This standardization can increase the level of care and patient satisfaction.
Automation also helps teams gather more data via automated surveys to improve reporting. In this way, automation can decrease workloads while increasing valuable feedback from patients.
Step 3: Create a Consistent Level of Quality
As teams standardize their program, not only do they increase efficiency, but they also create consistent quality. In this way, teams can lower the likelihood of bad experiences among patients, giving them confidence and trust in each medical interaction.
On the staff side, standardization makes it easier to onboard additional care team members. This means no more SOP binders and sticky notes. New members can get up to speed with software that guides them swiftly through training and standard procedures.
This is what workflow software designed specifically for patient relationship management is geared to do—speed up standardized processes so teams can monitor more patients, more efficiently and more profitably.
Ready to create more efficient workflows to help your care teams spend more time with patients and less on admin tasks? Download our workflow guide.