Assignment: An Informatics Capacity
Unfortunately, many nurses find themselves in an informatics capacity without sufficient preparation for a process analysis role. One area of practice that is particularly susceptible to inadequate preparation is the ability to facilitate process analysis. Workflow analysis requires careful attention to detail and the ability to moderate group discussions, organize concepts, and generate solutions. These skills can be acquired through a formal academic informatics program or through courses that teach the discipline of Six Sigma or Lean, by example. Regardless of where these skills are acquired, it is important to understand that they are now and will continue to remain a vital aspect of the informatics role.
Some organizations have felt strongly enough about the need for workflow analysis that departments have been created to address this very need. Whether the department carries the name of clinical excellence, organizational effectiveness, or Six Sigma/Lean, it is critical to recognize the value this group can offer technology implementations and clinicians.
As we examine how workflow analysis is conducted, note that while the nursing informaticist is an essential member of the team to participate in or enable workflow analysis, a team dedicated to this effort is necessary for its success.
Building the Design Team
The workflow redesign team is an interdisciplinary team consisting of “process owners.” Process owners are those persons who directly engage in the workflow to be analyzed and redesigned. These individuals can speak about the intricacy of process, including process variations from the norm. When constructing the team, it is important to include individuals who are able to contribute information about the exact current-state workflow and offer suggestions for future-state improvement. Members of the workflow redesign team should also have the authority to make decisions about how the process should be redesigned. This authority is sometimes issued by managers, or it could come from participation of the managers directly. Such a careful blend of decision makers and “process owners” can be difficult to assemble but is critical for forming the team and enabling them for success. Often, individuals at the manager level will want to participate exclusively in the redesign process. While having management participate provides the advantage of having decision makers and management-level buy-in, these individuals may also make erroneous assumptions about how the process should be versus how the process is truly occurring.
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