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Survey: Workflow Design is Key to Improving the Quality of Health IT Implementation

August 12, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Healthcare quality leaders say improving workflow efficiency should be a top priority to help healthcare organizations strengthen the quality of their technology implementation, according to a survey by the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

ASQ polled health care quality improvement professionals about health IT implementation and 78 percent cited designing workflows that improve efficiency and technology adoption as the No. 1 way to improve tech implementation.

Nurturing strong organizational leaders who champion health care technology initiatives also was cited by 71 percent of respondents as a key factor in improving health IT implementation.

The healthcare quality leaders also noted that resistance to change and high implementation costs are significant hurdles in healthcare technology implementation.

Specifically, 70 percent of respondents said one difficult hurdle to overcome was resistance to change from physicians and staff due to the perceived impact on time/workflow and unwillingness to learn new skills.

Sixty-four percent cited the high costs of implementing IT infrastructure and services and unproven return on investment as a big hurdle. And, 61 percent reported problems with complex new devices, poor interface between multiple technologies and the haphazard introduction of new devices that could cause patient errors.

“We in health care know that there are always drawbacks to technology. While not a panacea, technology can help engage patients, increase access to care, help improve safety, and make data collection easier," Susan Peiffer, chair of ASQ Healthcare Division and performance improvement specialist at Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) Western Wisconsin Division, said in a statement.

ASQ researchers also examined the role that healthcare technology can play in reducing the overall cost to healthcare organizations and maximizing organizations’ return on investment.

Remote patient monitoring was identified as the healthcare technology with the greatest impact on reducing costs and maximizing ROI. Survey respondents cited the technology’s ability to reduce the need for office visits and improving patient compliance. The second and third ranked technology tools identified by respondents were patient engagement platforms, which encourage patients to get more involved in the long-term management of their own health conditions, and electronic medical record/electronic health records, which can eliminate time-consuming tasks.

Survey participants also ranked the technologies having the most impact on patient experience and care coordination. The top ranked technology was wearable sensors, remote patient monitoring and other caregiver collaboration tools.

About 69 percent of survey participants identified smart phones, tablets and applications providing information for physicians and other clinicians as a helpful tool for care coordination. And, online communications along every step of patient process (e.g., website, registration, payment) was the third ranked technology tool having an impact on patient experience and care coordination.


The research also identified other quality improvement solutions to help strengthen health IT implementation.

Survey respondents said healthcare organizations should embed a quality expert into every department in order to learn user needs before determining what type of technology is implemented. “If users are involved, they are more likely to have a positive view of the change instead of feeling like it's another problem added to their workload,” the research authors stated.

Respondents also suggested improving available software with easier navigation, more detailed organization of medical record types, more widespread use of file transfer protocol (FTP) servers and the ability to upload records to requesting facilities as well as a universal notification system indicating the status of a medical record.

Healthcare organizations also should create healthcare apps for the use of professionals, such as a medication calculator, and also implement clinical pathways on mobile apps that can be easily used by doctors. Medication reconciliation can also be done via technology.

And, healthcare quality improvement professionals recommended using the voice of the customer techniques to better fit improvement approaches to the stakeholders who are being asked to change.

“Just as technology continues to evolve, we will continue to improve how we use technology and how we integrate it into our interactions with patients,” Peiffer said.



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