Reduce ROI Cost and Risk Through Sound Workflow Design and Consistent Execution

Exploring Driver #2 & #3 of the “5 Things You Must Know Now About Release of Health Information

By: Linda Kloss, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA

Increasing productivity is a central goal in today’s health care world. Increasing productivity involves improving output “task” time, speeding up. This is an important element, but for nearly all types of healthcare operations, productivity represents much more than speeding up. It’s not just how many records are coded per hour, it’s records coded per hour, while achieving accuracy benchmarks based on the type of record.  Similarly, it’s not just volume of transcription output, but line or document output adjusted for error volume and value.

Healthcare organizations are embracing lean techniques to optimize clinical and administrative processes and six sigma techniques to reduce process variation and process defects. How should we describe and measure productivity for release and disclosure of health information? What are the essential workflow elements that should be considered in lean process design?  What defects must be eliminated and measured?

Work process design involves six steps:  Mapping the process, analyzing it, redesigning, acquiring resources, implementing and communicating change, and measuring elements of the process for continuous improvement. In mapping, analyzing and redesigning a process, look for and eliminate as much of the delay as possible—for the benefit of patients, other customers and those who manage the release processes. Delays can be breaks in the process for rework such as logging a request, retrieving records called for in the request, producing output, and billing the requestor. Delays may also be gaps between steps in the process, the handoffs that so often have negative impact on productivity.  Rework and delays may also require seeking clarification to resolve uncertainty about the specifics of the request or the federal and state laws and regulations or organizational policies that guide how to fulfill them.

Verisma is transforming disclosure management by helping hospitals and clinics reduce process variation through an end-to-end technology-guided process-oriented approach.  Verisma deploys user-friendly, yet sophisticated workflow tools to guide each step of the process while reducing delays with built-in compliance guidance.  It automates the work of ongoing monitoring and process evaluating and it preserves a full record of work performed for compliance and transparency. When aggregated over time, the improved productivity based on reduced task time translates directly into tangible cost savings and intangible compliance risk avoidance.

The crux of productivity for disclosure management functions is aligning capabilities (technology and workflow tools) to well designed and executed processes performed by qualified staff and/or outsource partner, that are grounded in delivering value to customers and complying with regulations and policies. Measurements must take into account all elements for ongoing performance improvement.

Reducing ROI cost and risk through sound workflow design and execution should challenge HIM managers to consider the following:

  1. What are the steps in the end-to-end process? Where are the delays and breaks occurring and what are their root causes?
  2. Do we understand the customer value proposition for patient access? Are our processes optimized to deliver on them?
  3. Do our performance measures take in the capabilities, execution and outputs? How are they being used for ongoing improvement?

In our upcoming post, we will explore Driver #3 Enterprise Standardization Reduces Cost and Mitigates Risk of the 5 Things You Must Know Now About Release of Health Information.” As always, we encourage you to share your thoughts with us at