Clinical Workflow Analysis

Before undertaking a single sign-on and authentication project, it’s critically important to understand existing clinical workflows. When you completely understand the workflows, you’ll be in a much better position to eliminate the clicks that slow down and interrupt your care providers.

Here are some best practices for analyzing clinical workflows Imprivata has developed working with hundreds of leading healthcare organizations.

Get in the trenches to understand the five essential clinical workflow questions

It takes more than a simple questionnaire or meeting to understand clinical workflows. By spending time on the floor in targeted areas or departments, you’ll get the information and insights you need to answer the five essential questions for every workflow:

  • Who uses the various machines? Physicians? Nurses? Administrators?
  • What applications do they access the most, and how do they get to them?
  • Where is the machine – a public or private location? What connectivity does it have?  
  • When and how do users access the machine – is it shared or not, and do users change frequently and rapidly?
  • Why do they use the machine? How important is speed to this function?  How critical is security? How do you balance speed and security?

Answer these questions for each workstation in the area. Also, examine clinical workflows from the individual perspective. Follow around individual physicians and other care providers to determine where they go during the day, which workstations and applications they use, and how much time they spend waiting for things to load. This information can serve as a guide to where to focus your efforts for improved identity and access management.

Do a walk-through with your power users

Every organization has 'power users' or individuals that people turn to for help with technology. Identify your power users and get these people to walk through their areas with you – you can glean invaluable insight into the real clinical workflows.  IT may understand the machines, but the power users understand the users and their workflows.

From these individuals, you can discover the questions and problems care providers encounter regularly that might not reach help desk tickets. You also gain a better understanding of the most critical clinical workflows in the area.

Consider the differences by area and department

Workflows vary dramatically between groups or departments, with variations in:

  • Security of the area
  • Whether or not care providers are wearing gloves (relevant for fingerprint biometrics)
  • The number of applications used
  • Location of workstations and if they are shared
  • How quickly people move between workstations
  • Time sensitivity

The more critical speed is (such as the emergency room), the more time you need to invest in understanding the workflows and finding ways to save care providers time, such as with optimized healthcare access management.

Look for workflow wins

It's not enough to simply support current workflows — look for ways to improve them.

  • Where and when do care providers have to wait for applications?
  • What actions do they do repetitively? Can they be automated?
  • Where do they use workarounds for existing technologies or find ways to do things offline?
  • What do care providers find frustrating?

Look for ways to save time in the physician's day.  When you can show a physician a demonstrable time savings on an important clinical workflow, they will be more supportive of the entire adoption effort.  See Improving Workflow with Single Sign-on for tips on saving care providers time.

Need help with clinical workflow analysis?

Imprivata Professional Services can provide you with best practices and guidance on analyzing and improving clinical workflows; please contact us here to learn more.