The burden of chronic wounds is high. Associated morbidity, decreased quality of life, and, in some cases, mortality are among the many reasons significant interest is focused on the prevention and treatment of wounds and the patients you serve each and every day. It has been estimated that a single diabetic ulcer carries a cost of nearly US $50,000, and chronic wounds as a whole cost the medical system over US $25 billion per year. Worryingly, the number of patients affected is growing because of the increasing prevalence of diabetes and other chronic diseases that can affect wound healing.
Regardless of the monetary value of a single ulcer, the cost to the medical system as a whole, or how many patients are affected annually, the most clinically relevant question is: “How are you managing and documenting the outcomes of these patients in your health system?” To ensure accurate documentation and payment for wound care, you must invest time to understand the rules and regulations governing the management of your patients and create best practices for your processes and associated clinical and operational workflows.
The purpose of a workflow is to perform a sequence of tasks as quickly and as smoothly as possible. To me, effective workflows are those that increase your capacity for work and productivity. But how often do we review our workflows to ensure they are clinically effective, operationally appropriate, and not “broken,” all of which could lead to missing documentation elements or denials? The root cause of broken workflows lies in your process—you must periodically assess them to certify that the information they contain is accurate and up to date.
Knowing that a workflow is a chain of tasks that happen in a sequence, as well as a process you work through on a regular basis, you need to ask yourself a few questions when managing them. These include the following:
- How often do you review your workflow?
- How, exactly, do you complete each step?
- What tools and strategies do you need to complete the step?
- Who is in charge of which steps?
- What team member is responsible for documenting information collected during the patient’s encounter?
- How do you know if your workflows are effective?
- Do you audit your staff’s actions based on the workflows employed?
Further, understanding what documentation is necessary to develop and sequence the proper workflows is imperative. This understanding will align the appropriate people to drive the information for a complete medical record. Common elements for documentation include the following.
Read previous articles in “Advances in Skin & Wound Care” by Cathy Thomas Hess in the link.
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Cathy Thomas Hess is VP, Chief Clinical Officer for Wound Care at Net Health. She has over 30 years of experience in wound care, authored hundreds of journal articles, spoken at both national and international events, and has authored book chapters and the best-selling handbook titled Product Guide to Skin and Wound Care, 8th edition. She continues to be influential in the wound care community today and serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards for Advances in Skin and Wound Care, authoring a monthly column entitled Practice Points, and Today’s Wound Clinic.