December 1, 2018 | Cathy Thomas Hess, BSN, RN, CWCN

3 min read

Review, Reconcile, and Optimize Your Workflows

The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect on processes implemented in the past year and look forward to improving processes in the new year. One key process is workflow optimization. Workflow is a set of chronological, organized processes and tasks designed to efficiently meet a goal through interaction with people and resources.

In healthcare, smart workflows are vital, especially when providers use electronic health records (EHRs). The goals when using an EHR are to drive accountability of care; distribute clinical tasks among the team; improve care coordination through smart, efficient workflows and compliant documentation; impart care coordination through evidence-based care models; maintain regulatory standards; and optimize reports to drive compliance.


Designing and mapping your process take time and dedication to understanding the clinical, operational, regulatory, and financial workflows occurring in your department. Understanding your role and how you document your process is key to capturing the process within smart workflows. The first step to map your process is to define the clinical goals through collaborative workflows. These steps may include:

  • Determine roles, responsibilities, and skillsets
  • Know documentation requirements for place of service and scope of practice
  • Support evidence-based care guidelines
  • Understand the National and Local Coverage Determination Policies to support work performed
  • Develop policies and procedures to ensure compliance
  • Reduce duplication of effort and documentation
  • Determine procedures to be completed by role
  • Develop order sets and templates
  • Employ patient safety, quality, and risk-reduction initiatives
  • Support continuity of care across the continuum
  • Develop an audit plan


Investing time and expertise in developing appropriate workflows is imperative. This investment can yield better patient throughput, improved clinical satisfaction, and improved department processes to increase efficiency, reduction of errors, and patient and staff safety.

For example, when a patient arrives for a visit in an outpatient wound care department, the patient interacts with administrative staff, clinicians, and providers. From the point in time when the patient enters the department, the patient has expectations to be met for the visit, hence the need for a patient workflow. In order to effectively evaluate and manage the patient’s flow, the department must operate from best practice clinical pathways and documentation standards, hence the need for a clinical workflow.

To read the full article in “Advances in Skin & Wound Care” by Cathy Thomas Hess, click here.

Read previous articles in “Advances in Skin & Wound Care” by Cathy Thomas Hess in the link.

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Cathy is Chief Clinical Officer for WoundExpert® and Vice President at Net Health, and in addition to being the MIPS Clinical Consultant for WoundExpert. She gained over 30 years of expertise in various acute care, long-term care, sub-acute care facilities, home-health agencies, and outpatient wound care department settings. Cathy is the author of Clinical Guide to Skin and Wound Care (also translated into Italian and Portuguese) – Eighth Edition published in September of 2018.

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