A well-designed NextGen EHR workflow will help your practice in multiple ways. Intuitive workflows that seamlessly incorporate your NextGen system can prevent EHR burnout, improve efficiency, and give your staff more time to focus on patients. Here is how to optimize your NextGen EHR workflows.
What Is a NextGen EHR Workflow?
A workflow is the process or steps for accomplishing a task. A NextGen EHR workflow is a process for completing a task, like a patient office visit, that includes interactions with your EHR system. For example, your workflow for a patient visit includes all the steps providers and staff take inside and outside your NextGen system to check in a patient, gather vital signs, examine or diagnose the patient, order lab tests or prescriptions, provide follow-up instructions, and document the visit. Most of these steps require the use of your NextGen EHR.
What Is EHR Workflow Optimization or Redesign?
When you implement, upgrade, or customize your NextGen EHR, your workflows may need to change to accommodate your new EHR process. Your practice may also need to redesign or update workflows to remove bottlenecks or maximize efficiency. Workflow redesign is a process to analyze your current workflows, identify areas for improvement, and make changes to improve your efficiency.
An EHR workflow redesign process includes the following steps:
- Map your current workflows.
- Identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks in your current workflows.
- Design a new workflow that addresses bottlenecks and inefficiencies and works with your NextGen EHR’s capabilities.
- Pilot test your new workflow to identify and address any problems.
- Implement and monitor your redesigned workflow. Make adjustments to address any issues as they arise.
Why Is NextGen EHR Workflow Optimization Important?
EHR workflow redesign will help your practice to get the most out of your NextGen system. Without it, your practice may face provider and staff EHR burnout. Poorly designed workflows can also cause delays in patient care, billing errors, inefficient and incomplete quality measure reporting, and miscommunication.
By undertaking a NextGen EHR workflow redesign, you can help your practice:
- Become more efficient.
- Provide high-quality, high-value patient care.
- Improve care coordination among providers and across organizations.
- Increase your scores on quality metrics.
Common Practice Areas to Examine
Most practices have two types of EHR workflows: patient workflows and patient information workflows. Patient workflows include all the tasks your practice completes when a patient makes an appointment or visits your office. Patient information workflows include tasks like charting and billing. These tasks are often related to patient visits but do not require the patient’s participation or physical presence.
Here are common EHR workflows you should examine for opportunities to improve your efficiency and productivity:
- Pre-visit: Appointment scheduling and verification of insurance.
- Patient intake: Registration and recording of vital signs.
- Clinical tasks: Chart review, visit documentation, and development of care plans and follow-up instructions.
- Orders: Managing orders for lab tests and following up on results.
- Medication management: Prescribing and e-prescribing, refills, and checking interactions and contraindications.
- Billing: Coding, charges, billing, and reconciliation.
- Patient check-out: Post-visit instructions and payment.
How to Conduct NextGen EHR Workflow Redesign
Your EHR workflow redesign process will require time and energy from your staff. Before you begin, you must identify staff members who have the time and expertise to map current workflows. This team should include key players in the EHR workflow or workflows that you want to redesign and quality improvement staff. Adding the expertise of a consultant who specializes in EHR workflows and templates can be beneficial too.
Your workflow redesign team will first decide on a process or processes to analyze. They will then identify the start and endpoints of the process. The team should document each step of the process, then review the mapped process for accuracy and completeness. If all key players agree the workflow map is accurate and complete, the team can then identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the current workflow.
The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality suggests mapping your workflows using flowcharts. Flowcharts use standard symbols to visually describe processes. These standard symbols include:
- Circles to show the process start and endpoints.
- Squares to identify the actors and their tasks in the process step.
- Diamonds to pinpoint key choices or decision points.
There are many methods for mapping out workflows. For example, your team can use sticky notes and markers, whiteboards, or software such as Microsoft Visio or SmartDraw. Whatever your team’s preferred approach, mapping a workflow should start from the beginning of the process and proceed stepwise to the end of the process. It is helpful to represent this visually by placing the process start point at the top of your page, board, or screen and the process endpoint at the bottom. As you map your workflow, each step of the process should be included in a rectangle. You can use diamonds for any points in the process where a decision must be made or a question must be answered. For example, an order management workflow would include a diamond for the question, “Is the test result abnormal?” Once all steps are identified, draw connecting lines between the steps.
How TempDev Can Help
TempDev’s consultants have the NextGen and practice management expertise you need to help you optimize your workflows. TempDev can support you through every step of the workflow redesign process, from mapping current workflows to testing and training.
Call us at 888.TEMP.DEV or contact us here to get started redesigning your NextGen EHR workflows.