Hi fellow CMIOs, CNIOs, and other Clinical #Informatics and #HealthIT friends,
In my last blog post, I shared some slides from a recent talk I gave to a group of newcomers to the world of Applied Clinical Informatics, and shared my first trick for untangling and controlling workflows - technical procedure writing ('the Cupcake Test').
For today's blog post, I'd like to share another helpful trick for untangling and controlling workflows - Designing documents, both inside and outside of your EMR, to help clarify and improve workflow.
There's a common saying in both Applied Clinical Informatics and technical document writing : "Control your documents, before they control you." This is basically how I learned to love documents - They actually do create standards, but only if you know how to use them properly.
Documents are tools used to record and transmit information. To help better explain the power of documents, it's helpful to look back at patterns set into motion by our earliest human ancestors, when they first learned to document on the walls of caves. Their ideas could be turned into images and symbols, that would in turn put information into other heads. It was the first time that humans really learned the power of documentation :
- If the documents are clear and easy-to-find, your staff will use them to understand your values and needs, and will create predictable patterns and outcomes.
- If the documents are vague or not easy-to-find, your staff will not use them to understand your values and needs, and will not create predictable patterns or outcomes.
- STEP 1 : Define your current-state worfklow. ("Point A")
- STEP 2 : Design your desired future-state workflow. ("Point B")
- STEP 3 : Identify which of the 24 tool(s) (both inside the EMR and outside the EMR) you need to get FROM the workflow defined in step #1 above, TO the workflow defined in step #2 above.
- STEP 1 : DEFINITION - Write a clear, simple, one-sentence, policy-grade definition to answer the question, "What is a protocol, and what does it do?"
- STEP 2 : TEMPLATE - After you have a good working definition, design a template for creating protocols.
- STEP 3 : PROCEDURE - After you have a good working definition and template - design a good procedure for drafting, reviewing/vetting, approving, publishing, monitoring, and archiving protocols.
- STEP 4 : EDUCATION - After you have the procedure in step #3 nailed down, you can start to educate your staff about your new definition, template, and process - And soon people's common understanding will increase, with this new foundation and support for this important document.