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Workflow Strategy Snapshots: Fresh Focus for the New Year

Kicking off any new year allows us to pause and reflect on the previous year’s actions and results. When you work within wound care, perhaps your first action this year was to review your schedule of patients to ensure they were provided the proper time to be seen, or review your staffing matrix to ensure you are you are meeting the needs of the scheduled patients, or dig into your supply cabinets to ensure inventory is abundant. Each action is vital to maintain your business and is interconnected to your unique process.

Overarching all interconnected daily tasks are your workflow processes from pre-registration, clinical documentation, coding, billing, medical records, and denial management. In wound care, workflow drives your efficiency to achieve accurate documentation and payment for the work performed. To master workflows, you must invest time to create best practices based on your processes.  

Welcome to our new blog, which focuses on workflow strategies. Each month we will focus on one building block that supports your clinical and operational purpose. Two important words will frame our discussions: workflow and process. We will also tackle the “why” behind the actions discussed within each building block. When we start asking “why,” we’re able to determine if we’re on the right track or we’re able to push the boundaries further and explore deeper before we make decisions. Answering the “why” is the first step in owning your process and understanding the actions taken by you and your staff. The answers to the “why” lie within process, which will also be the underpinning of these blogs.

First, let’s define workflow and process. Based on my years of experience as a workflow strategist, workflow streamlines your business’s key tasks to define the proper steps to eliminate redundancies by identifying gaps in your practice, all to provide clinical and operational efficiencies. Process is defined by the user’s or organization’s rules. I often refer to these processes as Clinical, Operational, Regulatory, Economic/Financial (CORE) processes.1 Each action within the workflow has dependencies influencing responsibilities of your staff or resources used, rules of governing bodies, and requirements for clinical documentation and the medical record. In order to capture proper clinical and operational documentation, configure your workflows with the appropriate elements to meet the rules and regulations of your workplace. Understanding each part of your process, no matter how small, is critical.

Equally important—you want to verify and validate your staff’s understanding of each workflow and their associated documentation requirements; simply answering their “why” questions. Why is it important to understand both workflow and process? The work performed dictates responsibilities that are translated as physical actions or tasks. The actions or tasks form the proper steps for documentation and payment rendered.  It’s a domino effect.  

Workflow strategy and development is not a simple feat. Workflow is built by understanding the complexities of your processes. Let’s walk through this year together to learn from each other and share best practices.  

Wishing you a happy, healthy, safe, and productive 2021.  

Cathy Thomas Hess, BSN, RN, CWCNCathy Thomas Hess, BSN, RN, CWCN, is Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer for Wound Care. Ms. Hess presides over Net Health Wound Care 360 Professional Services, which offers products and solutions to optimize processes and workflows. Address correspondence to Ms Hess via email: chess@nethealth.com.

Reference

1. CORE, a proprietary process developed by Cathy Thomas Hess, VP, Chief Clinical Officer for Wound Care, Net Health, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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