The Health Industry is far From Process-Minded to Help the Sick

by MK Strupe on Fri, Apr 30, 2010 @ 01:10 PM

I have been sick yesterday and today with the flu.  Without sounding like I am making a formal request for Get Well cards (smile), like all other circles in my life, the concept of "process" has entered my mind numerous times in dealing with doctors and pharmacies.  The fact that the Health Industry, or the industry in my part of the world, is so far removed from efficient process-centric operation is mind boggling.  I do have to think I am not living in a special part of the world, as I have read the following article today.

Sick Patient- Integrating BPM and EMRs

So my trials and tribulations of my doctor and pharmacy visits included the following:

  • Not being able to make a doctor's appointment (I have to call in, be put on hold, talk to a receptionist, tell her my records are in their files, and wait for confirmation)
  • Once getting to the doctor, having to show them my insurance card (despite it being on file) where the check in attendant once again makes a photocopy of it
  • Once I am checked in, I see that they write my name on a DRY ERASE BOARD (the queue of patients to be seen). Can you believe this? What happens if someone inadvertently brushes against the board?
  • After seeing the doctor and getting a prescription, I have to drive to the drug store and hand the prescription paper to the pharmacist
  • It turns out, there is some problem with the prescription, my insurance, and the doctor who filed it. I am told to go home while they make phone calls to sort out the mess. And believe you me, this is a mess!

As you can see, this "process" is riddled with inefficiencies that could be streamlined with today's technologies:

  • Why shouldn't I be able to make an appointment online if I am already a known patient?
  • Why aren't my medical records online and accessible to prove my insurance is current and valid?
  • Why do I have to take a piece of paper (prescription) and drive it to a pharmacy?
  • Why can't the prescription be automatically filed at the pharmacy, so that when I get there, it stands a good chance of already being ready?

As I sat waiting at numerous stages of getting my medicine back home with me, it is all I could do but laugh on how BPM is a no-brainer for the Health Industry for reasons such as:

  • Moving from paper documents (and whiteboards, too!) to electronic records
  • Integrating the disparate electronic applications, and the data in the applications, into a single fluid process
  • Giving patients and customers web-based access to proactively understand appointment schedules, doctor delays, and anticipated prescription fill times

I could be a tad cantankerous and frustrated (many sick people are), but when people are going to see doctors and pharmacies, there is obvious an immediate need for action by them.  Having to deal with paper, offline processes, people and systems not connected to one another, and overall inefficiencies, it is hard to argue that the entire system is not much more than a house of cards.


Relevant Links:

BPM and the Transition to EMRs: Ensuring Quality

Making the Most of Technology in Healthcare

BPM, the "Glue" Connecting Disparate Systems


Chris Adams
VP Product and Technology


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This post was written by MK Strupe