Workflows are the backbone of any EHR software. They are constantly working in the background, executing their roles to facilitate your EHR system.
Workflows are specific sets of programmed tasks designed to manage patient data and coordinate all the moving parts of treatment. They are crucial to every EHR, and the quality of a given workflow can impact the efficacy of your EHR system
Workflows can be a difficult process to wrap your head around, especially if you are not familiar with software technology.
After over 15 years in the industry, we at Sigmund have much experience with this important EHR feature. Allow us to identify the areas in which strong workflows can most improve your behavioral health facility’s processes.
1) Ease of Use for Staff
The best workflows make an EHR system as automated and efficient as possible.
An ideal workflow will automate your facility’s documentation. They should be designed to capture data once during admission, and then actively manage that information throughout the patient’s treatment cycle.
As a result, staff spends less time on manual labor, and more time on patient care. Workflows that are intelligently automated go a long way to simplifying the computing burden on staff.
For example, when a patient reports an allergy to a certain medication during intake, effective workflows should pull that information and automatically alert a care provider if they try to prescribe them that medication. In this common scenario, the workflow accomplishes two things:
- Eliminates the need for double entry of the patient’s allergy information
- Presents critical information to the care provider at the time of decision so they can make an informed and safe decision
In this way, workflows close gaps between different documentation pieces within a system so that staff does not have to navigate them at all.
By providing users with accurate information when and where they need it, workflows contribute greatly to the efficient performance of your staff and software. The most effective workflows will be able to instantly present critical data anywhere in your platform.
2) Workflow Configuration
For your facility’s process to be automated and efficient, the tasks that your workflows follow may require a certain degree of configuration.
Many EHR vendors provide a set of standard workflows to aid your operation. However, a real clinical setting is not always that cut and dry. An EHR may not be programmed to account for all the complexities of an organization’s daily activities.
It’s important that the nuances and levels of detail that make your organization unique can be incorporated into your system of automated workflows. Be mindful that not all EHRs will be able to completely accommodate you in this manner. It is a good idea to confirm the level of workflow configuration available to you when demoing EHR software.
Having some processes that are easily automated through workflows and others that are not can hinder the efficiency of your entire operation.
You want your EHR to feel intuitive to your staff. If an EHR cannot accommodate your staff’s preferred way of doing things, they may have trouble adopting the software.
3) Admissions Workflows
EHR Workflows can contribute to an optimized admissions process at your behavioral health organization.
Most EHRs contain basic workflows that assist with the admissions process, such as automatic appointment reminders. However, certain EHRs will prepare you for new patients much more thoroughly.
More robust workflows may facilitate multiple phases of the admissions process beyond simple reminders.
For example, workflow functions can notify your staff which types of documentation must be provided to a patient upon their arrival. This allows your staff to prepare for a patient’s appointment ahead of time.
Other EHRs contain workflows that engage incoming patients through a patient portal, which may allow your facility to evaluate prospective patients for appropriate placement, as well as gather health information, such as their History and Physical (H&P) or Medication Administration Record (MAR), before they step foot in your facility.
This level of automated preparation, for both the facility and the prospective patient, provides an intake structure that can cut down on admission bottlenecks.
4) Compliance Workflows
Workflows are a fantastic tool for meeting compliance standards.
Your facility may be accredited (i.e. JCAHO or CARF) and subjected to periodic audits.
A workflow not only collects a patient’s data, it also leverages it in productive ways. This is very helpful during audits. A workflow can recall the required documents and relevant staff activity in a report to confirm that everything is up to standard.
Compliance workflows can also help facilities struggling to complete documentation on time, and/or with accuracy. Effective workflows automatically generate and populate compliance documentation instantly and correctly, eliminating the human error, or uncertainty, that can be associated with complex compliance matters.
5) Billing Workflows
Workflows can be an instrumental tool for your billing staff.
Financial workflows make their lives much easier by automating a variety of billing tasks, such as processing, scrubbing, reviewing and batching claims.
The more financial processes that you can incorporate into an EHR’s workflows, the better. They reduce the workload on your staff, freeing employees up to improve processes and follow up on other critical billing tasks.
Another useful finance workflow feature is an intelligent billing work queue that can assume your billing burden and help manage the revenue cycle. Such workflows can allow you to track the progress of your billing staff, or trigger workflows that send denied or rejected claims to staff automatically for correction.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Workflow
No matter how powerful an EHR platform may be, the relationship between a facility and an EHR vendor’s implementation staff may be just as important to successfully building custom workflows. Collaboration and communication between both parties are very important at this stage.
The first step of tailoring workflows to your facility’s unique process is identifying and documenting your current process.
This may sound simple, but each organization’s workflows will be a little different. Furthermore, the larger a facility is, the more varied and dynamic workflows they will require.
As a result, your EHR vendor will need to be educated on how your facility does things. This is crucial for your vendor’s understanding of how to best convert your facility’s procedures to workflows in the system.
Ideally, an implementation team will help define your facility’s processes and suggest how they may look as a workflow.
This initial collaboration is the most important step to achieving workflows that precisely reflects your process. It is important to feel comfortable and understood by an implementation team.
EHR Workflows at Sigmund
At Sigmund, our dedicated Implementation team collaborates with clients of all different needs to create the perfect workflows for their processes. We have had great success mirroring a behavioral health facility’s processes with automated, efficient and intuitive workflows.
For a quick look behind the Sigmund curtain, check out this video of John Burns, our Director of Implementations, as he discusses his experience working with clients to define their processes.
We have also seen how intelligent and intuitive workflows can transform a facility’s process to achieve increased functionality and performance.
When we developed AURA, our enterprise software solution, we aimed to create a truly user-friendly and consolidated EHR. Customizable workflows played a big role in accomplishing this goal.
If you would like to learn more about how workflows may improve your operation, reach out to one of our knowledgable professionals today! And if you’re interested in seeing AURA’s powerful and highly configurable workflows, click on the button below!