Healthcare process improvement has become an essential aspect of the healthcare industry.
It refers to the systematic approach of analyzing and improving existing healthcare processes to:
- Enhance patient outcomes.
- Improve operational excellence.
- Reduce costs.
- Improve efficiency.
In this article, we'll explore the importance of healthcare process improvement, its challenges and how healthcare organizations can streamline their processes to achieve maximum benefits.
Healthcare operations leaders make tough decisions about healthcare processes and seek better improvements to realize operational goals for patients, staff and communities
This blog aims to educate healthcare professionals on the importance of process improvement in healthcare — keeping in mind the industry's unique challenges and introducing Scribe as a tool to help streamline healthcare process improvement.
What is healthcare process improvement & why is it important?
Healthcare process improvement involves analyzing existing healthcare processes and using data to identify inefficiencies and improve them to deliver better patient care and outcomes.
Healthcare processes could be related to care quality, such as patient outcomes, or other measures such as provider satisfaction and retention.
The healthcare process improvement approach uses a data-driven and systematic method to enhance processes. It involves identifying the problem, mapping the process, collecting and analyzing data, implementing improvement solutions and monitoring the results.
As the healthcare landscape evolves, continuous improvement can help your healthcare organizations stay abreast of the changes and position themselves for the future.
Examples of healthcare process improvement
Healthcare process improvement can be implemented in the whole organization or different processes, workflows or departments, including:
- Clinical Workflow Redesign.
- Business Office Process Improvement.
- Revenue Cycle Management.
- Healthcare Integration.
- Customized Healthcare Process Improvement.
Here are some real world examples of healthcare process improvement.
- Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Improved electronic medical record documentation with digitized patient records, replacing paper-based systems and making processes more accessible.
- Telemedicine. The use of technology to provide remote medical care to patients, reducing travel time and costs, eliminating patients traveling long distances for medical care.
- Process documentation. Capturing and recording steps and procedures involved in completing a task or process to provide a clear understanding of how a process works, so it can be improved, replicated or scaled using process documentation tools like Scribe.
- Improved patient flow: Optimized patient flow reduces patient wait times and staff overtime, creating better outcomes and fewer headaches. This can also include the use of data-driven approaches to shorten the average length of hospital stays or improve care coordination among staff and departments.
- Create training manual: This enhancesprocess flows resulting in reduced hospital readmissions, decreased medication administration errors and reduced medication-related adverse events.
- Better healthcare outcomes: For example, optimized sepsis care, Reduce postoperative infections and decreased number of urinary catheter infections.
How does process improvement impact leadership decision making?
In any organization, process improvement is the impetus for change. It helps guide decision-making to achieve the organization’s desired change. How?
For example, process improvement provides healthcare leaders with insights into the root causes of inefficiencies and helps them make informed decisions based on data. This data-driven approach ensures that decisions are objective and aligned with organizational goals.
In that case, administrators can focus efforts to reduce costs and maximize revenues, while also delivering quality care and patient outcomes.
The importance of process improvement in healthcare
With lives at stake and standards to be met, healthcare organizations need efficient processes that deliver quality patient care and outcomes.
Healthcare process improvement is important for various reasons.
1. Improving patient outcomes
The number one goal of process improvement is improving patient outcomes. By optimizing healthcare processes, healthcare providers can improve patient outcomes. This is achieved by reducing errors, minimizing wait times, reducing waste and increasing the quality of care.
2. Enhancing patient safety
Second to improved patient outcomes is improved patient safety. Healthcare process improvement can help identify potential risks and hazards in healthcare processes, which can then be addressed to improve patient safety.
3. Increasing efficiency
Streamlining healthcare processes can help reduce the time and effort required to complete tasks, which can increase efficiency and productivity. This includes efficiency in processes and efficiency of staff to deliver quality healthcare and outcomes.
4. Reducing costs
Healthcare Process improvement can help reduce the hospital’s wastage of resources, which can lead to cost savings for healthcare organizations. For example, reduced wait times increases more patients served, while better waste management processes can help reduce health risks posed to staff and patients and improve overall hospital safety.
5. Enhancing staff satisfaction and improved staff efficiency
By improving healthcare processes, healthcare providers can reduce stress, increase job satisfaction and enhance staff morale. This results in improved staff efficiency and better patient outcomes.
6. Meeting regulatory requirements
Healthcare process improvement can help healthcare organizations comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards, ensuring that they meet legal and ethical obligations. Without meeting these obligations, the healthcare organization may fall victim to unethical and illegal actions.
The challenges of healthcare process improvement
Implementing process improvement in healthcare can be challenging due to various reasons such as resistance to change, lack of resources, the complexity of workflows and more.
1. Resistance to change
Healthcare process improvement requires changing the way things have been done. Often, this can be met with resistance from staff who are used to working in a certain way. Staff resistance to change can impede the change or improvement process and make it difficult to improve healthcare processes.
2. Lack of resources
Resource is the most limiting factor in any setting. Healthcare organizations may face challenges in allocating sufficient resources, including time, personnel and technology, to support process improvement efforts. In addition, there may be limited resources to be used in the healthcare improvement processes.
3. Complexity of healthcare processes
Healthcare processes or workflows may be complex, involving multiple stakeholders and steps. This can make it challenging to identify areas of inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement.
4. Variability in patient needs
Patients have unique needs and healthcare providers must adapt to these needs, which can complicate efforts to standardize processes.
5. Regulatory requirements
Healthcare providers must comply with regulatory requirements, which can create additional complexities in implementing process improvements.
6. Data collection and analysis
Collecting and analyzing data is critical for identifying areas for improvement, but healthcare organizations may struggle to collect, store and analyze the necessary data to make informed decisions.
Benefits of using Scribe (& Scribe Pages) to document, store, share & maximize processes
Improving processes in any industry is a strategic, long-term and ongoing initiative. You need participation from both leadership and frontline employees while leveraging important tools to support the process.
One such tool is Scribe, the process documentation tool.
Here are some key benefits of using Scribe to document, store, share and maximize processes.
1. Automate process flows
Scribe helps create process flows and other manuals easily by automatically capturing your screen with auto-generated step-by-step guides. Here it is in action:
In short: You simply click record and do your process.
Scribe automates process documentation and makes it 15x faster to streamline processes and reduce manual work. In seconds, Scribe gives you a process document, complete with text and screenshots.
You can also customize and combine different Scribes to make visual SOPs, training manuals and onboarding flows.
Scribe provides an automation platform to document, store and share processes, enabling healthcare providers and admins to collaborate on healthcare process improvement projects.
Scribe documents can also help you track progress and monitor the impact of process improvements on patient outcomes and collect feedback to identify new areas for improvement. This helps the organization continuously refine processes over time.
2. Map & Identify areas for improvement
To begin streamlining your hospital setting’s processes, you need to take a critical look at each and every area/step. You can create a list of processes, then start mapping out what each process looks like.
You’ll conduct a thorough analysis of current healthcare processes to identify areas that are inefficient or could be improved, such as care quality, process documentation or financial efficiency.
This is where Scribe comes in. Scribe can improve the way your team works. Since it’s hard to remember each and every detail when recalling and mapping process steps manually, Scribe cuts out the complicated back and forth so you can create accurate process maps from the very beginning. How?
With Scribe, your departments and sections can document their steps... while they complete a process. Your team can then analyze these maps for inefficiencies, redundant steps or areas of improvement.
Some factors to consider are:
- Is this necessary? Can any steps in the process be eliminated, shortened or improved?.
- Is this process complicated? Do team members struggle to complete this process?.
- Is this process expensive? Are there areas to reduce costs while maintaining quality or efficiency?.
- Does the process lack appropriate resources? Would investing more resources or time improve efficiency?.
You can also consider analyzing how the process interacts with one another to achieve the cumulative efficiency of the hospital.
3. Establish clear goals & metrics
Define clear goals and metrics to measure the success of process improvement efforts. For example, you can decide to focus on process KPIs related to patient outcomes while keeping an eye on the metrics related to the processes themselves, like how long a particular process takes.
A metric can be an increase in the number of patients served per day or a percentage reduced number of patient readmissions.
With Scribe, you can develop a how-to guide to help each team member develop goals and use company metrics. This makes the process easy and clear to all team (staff) members.
4. Engage stakeholders
Change requires the buy-in of all stakeholders. In a healthcare setting, this includes healthcare providers, staff, patients, administrators and other stakeholders.
Scribe helps create a central repository where all stakeholders can access documents and other items used in creating the change. This puts everyone on the same page.
Here's a Scribe Page that outlines how to use Gong.
Involving stakeholders in the process improvement efforts helps ensure that everyone is on board with the changes and makes the change process easy for everyone.
5. Use data & analytics
Collect and analyze data to identify inefficiencies and opportunities for improvement and measure progress against established metrics.
You can do this by embedding questionnaires in Scribes or create questionnaires and share them on the central repository in Scribe where everyone can reach them. Data can be shared and acted upon by different persons and then it is analyzed to get improved results.
Regardless of which process improvement methodology you’re using in the healthcare process improvement, such as Scribe process documentation, Lean or Six Sigma, you need a data-driven approach.
Data will support measuring the process KPIs for the key areas of focus. Data also supports continuous improvement, where iterative changes take longer.
6. Standardize processes
One of the key strategies of process improvement is process standardization. You need to establish clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all the organization’s healthcare processes to ensure consistency and reduce variability.
Once you create the SOPs, you need to share them through the organization with all the stakeholders and make them available for their access.
This health puts every team member on the same page. Here’s a Scribe Page explaining how to use Scribe as a team, made by Coronis Health.
7. Reduce costs
Scribe helps automate most processes and improvement of service delivery, which reduces the hospital costs on repetitive tasks.
For example, money spent on repetitive tasks like merchant processing can be spent on other tasks. Assuming a hospital accepts credit cards, they must also employ a merchant processing service, which is often a complicated process with lots of variable fees. Scribe can centralize statements and allow one employee to comb through them to see what fees are repeatedly showing up or search for errors and overcharges.
There are other cost reduction avenues through Scribe when quantified in terms of time and resources.
Examples of healthcare organizations that have used Scribe to streamline processes and improve patient care
Various healthcare organizations and cases have used Scribe to streamline their processes and improve patient care.
Here are some examples.
1. Coronis Health
Coronis Health is a revenue cycle management company serving healthcare facilities.
This means a lot of documentation. Their search for process documentation solutions that were simple, scalable and compliant landed them on Scribe.
Today, Coronis Health uses Scribe as a simple, scalable and compliant process documentation solution -- while saving their team 60+hours.
Here are three positive impacts Coronis has realized from using Scribe.
- Ten thousand+ minutes of saved time for the team.
- Eighteen percent increase in participation and compliance across all operational procedures.
- Twenty percent increase in accuracy for completed tasks.
Scribe has also helped Coronis build a culture of process adherence.
2. MVP Health Care
Child Health Plus provides children under 19 with free or affordable health coverage depending on their household income. MVP Health Care has provided a how-to guide to help people create their accounts. Here’s the Child Health Plus Account Creation Scribe created by MVP Health Care.
How Scribe integrates with existing healthcare systems to minimize disruption and maximize efficiency
Scribe integrates with existing healthcare systems.
You just need to download the Scribe extension or desktop app and sign in using your account to create beautiful process documents - fast.
You just turn on the Scribe recorder and walk through any browser or web-based process as normal.
Scribe instantly turns any process into a step-by-step guide.
Scribe works while you work to auto-generate a guide, complete with text and screenshots.
You can then share your Scribes with one click or embed them in an existing tool or wiki to build out a robust SOP program.
All scribes created are saved in a repository where you or your team can access them with just a click.
This helps save time, increase productivity, and enable your team to minimize disruption and maximize efficiency.
Wrapping up: Healthcare process improvement guide
Process improvement in healthcare is a long-term journey that aims at bettering patient care, health outcomes, and operational efficiency.
But healthcare process improvement challenges may hinder the Healthcare Process Improvement efforts.
By homing in on the patient outcomes and working to improve the entire patient journey with healthcare process improvement, healthcare organizations can reach their targets.
With Scribe, it’s easier to capture and share processes aster as well as create comprehensive process documents that can support healthcare process improvement efforts.