Putting it together: Workflow design can improve quality outcomes

July 27, 2018 / By Cheryl Manchenton, RN

As a rabid theater-goer, I love Sondheim.  Note the quote below:

“Bit by bit, putting it together…
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution,
Every little detail plays a part.
Having just the vision’s no solution,
Everything depends on execution,
Putting it together, that’s what counts.”

                              Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

When thinking about building or improving quality workflow, these lyrics should be the organizational philosophy and plan.   A significant part of improving quality outcomes is to include quality, coding and CDI in the design and implementation of a quality workflow.  Successful workflow design requires vision, attention to detail and execution.  

The vision….

Review your workflow to determine if it is optimal or needs a refresh.  In preparation, consider your vision.  What is the goal?  What tools are you going to use?  By whom? When?  Workflow design/redesign is a perfect time to see if your current process is effective and to hone and enhance the process.

Next, ensure all the key personnel are represented in the planning meetings.  Engage quality as an equal team member in the workflow and include leaders as well as selected front-line employees as part of the design discussion meetings.

The execution….

Inviting all key participants is important but just as important is ensuring that ALL invited participants attend EVERY scheduled meeting.  This makes for efficient and thorough discussions.  When everyone on the team commits to attend meetings, it is a testament to the commitment of the organization, commitment of the team, and clear understanding of the vision.

Every little detail plays a part….

During discussions, dive into the minutiae.  This can be painful and slow, but it’s essential.  Analyzing the minutiae helps identify issues, streamline workflows and ensure easy use of software/templates/spreadsheets for the end users.  Reviewing specific parts of workflow tools can ensure end users know the HOW and the WHY of the workflow.  Spend time working on the minutiae.  It will pay off.

The Grand Finale….

An expansive vision, a focus on detail and strong execution results in accurate documentation, accurate coding and accurate reflection of financial, profiling and quality outcomes. 

To quote Mr. Sondheim one more time: “And that…Is the state of the Art!”

Cheryl Manchenton is a senior inpatient consultant and project manager for 3M Health Information Systems.

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