Re-Integrating Healthcare Data and Healthcare Workflow: Patient Experience

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Several decades ago, when I got my Master’s, one in Industrial Engineering, focusing on workflow, and the other in Medical Informatics, focusing on data, I have watched this process happen. There’s been a kind of a split, the data flow folks went one way, and the workflow folks went the other way. Many of the early hospital information systems were actually designed by managing engineers, managing engineers were industrial engineers.

What’s happened in the last couple of decades is, the medical informatics, health IT folks, who are focused on data, have built most of the systems that people interact with. While at the same time, the workflow folks have gone into total quality management, Six Sigma, Lean, process improvement, and that’s been a kind of unfortunate chasm, because obviously these problems really require both kinds of expertise.

I believe that workflow technology, what academics call process aware information systems, is the window of opportunity to knit back together the workflows and the data of healthcare. Structured messaging is an excellent example of a particular kind of workflow technology.

We’re really zooming out here. Something about that title, “Wellness Through Workflow”, sounds like a public health announcement. Wellness, the state of being in a good physical and mental health. Workflow, a series of steps, consuming resources, achieving a goal. Think about the relationship between workflow technology outside of healthcare. A lot of the apps that are making things very convenient. Google, now Siri, are using various kinds of workflow technology, supplemented by machine [inaudible 00:34:43]. Not only can we reunite data and workflow, using workflow technology, we can also we can reunite healthcare workflows and non-healthcare workflows.

At the top of the hour, I hope you’ll join. It tends to be kind of a free-for-all. Basically, even if you’re not into workflow and patient experience, but you’re interested in healthcare, health IT, we’d love you to join us. That’s at It’ll ask you to use your Twitter credentials to log in, and then, at the top of the hour, Jimmie Vanagon, a general internist, the guy who’s waving right there, is co-host. Love to hear what you think about what I’ve said, or just about anything else.

Thank you. That’s my Gmail address, ChuckWebsterMD, but the best to get ahold of me is on Twitter, @wareFLO, and everybody start using that #POWHIT hashtag, People and Organizations improving Workflow with Health Information Technology. Then, join our blab at the top of the hour, by the way Chrome, and I hear Firefox works, I always use Chrome. There is an iOS app, Chrome on Android, I hear, works. Thank you all for attending, and viva la workflow, onward workfloistas. Thank you.

Take me to the beginning of this series: Better Patient Experience Through Structured Messaging and Workflow Technology.

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