Effective workflow management is the foundation to a seamless transfer of care process. By digitising your workflow processes, your organisation can be more productive, reduce costs, minimise errors and lessen clinical risk.
Almost 50 million documents were sent electronically between 2021-22 through the Docman Connect solution. With so many records being transferred across the NHS, it’s important to know what is being sent and when it’s reaching the GP practice to ensure an effective and auditable transfer of care.
This article will explore how you can transform your transfer of care processes by digitising your workflow management process.
What is a workflow?
A workflow is the steps taken to complete a task and can be as simple or complex as it needs to be.
For example, a patient visits their GP and is subsequently referred onto the radiology department of their local hospital for an MRI scan. After the MRI appointment, the patients’ care records need to be sent back to their GP. Every step in this three-stage process between primary and secondary care needs documenting and transferring to the relevant health professional for them to review, record and file. The workflow refers to each step made in this journey.
What is workflow management?
Workflow management is how you organise the steps needed to get a task done. By managing workflow, organisations can refine tasks, making repetitive processes more efficient and save time which can be better spent on the more complex needs of the day.
Without an effective workflow process, documents can get lost, arrive late or simply misplaced. NHS Trusts lost almost 10,000 patient records across 68 hospitals in 2017, for example.
A digital solution helps you to manage your workflow, automating processes, reducing the risk of human error, and ensuring that real-time information is always accessible to the health professional at the correct time, in the correct format. Here is how you can assess your current process:
1. Review your current workflow process
First, you need to look at your current transfer of care process.
- Find out where shortfalls are and what is negatively affecting your transfer of care.
- Identify any bottlenecks in your workflow which might be affecting productivity.
- Determine which steps in your workflow can be automated, so you staff can focus their time on other tasks.
By reviewing your current practices, you can see how that workflow can be improved by using a digital solution.
2. Go digital to manage your workflow
Manually processing every item of care documentation is time consuming and prone to human error. It is also potentially demoralising for staff who would rather reduce admin time and increase clinical time.
Switching to an online system to transfer care records not only saves time, but also removes the traditional challenges faced when following a manual workflow:
Digital systems send care documents quicker than if you were to manually post the records, helping your staff to be more productive as they can spend the time saved on other tasks. Managing your transfer of care workflow digitally also helps keep costs down, because documents sent electronically don’t need a stamp and aren’t lost in the post needing to be resent.
According to a recent Ofcom report, only 82% of letters sent by first-class post succeeded in arriving on the day it was expected in 2021-22. If we relate this postal failure rate to the earlier Docman Connect statistic, this would mean 9 million documents would have arrived late if a digital solution hadn’t been used. This could include a significant number of in-patient discharge summary letters that aren’t sent within the 24-hour timescale.
Working in a busy and demanding environment will also mean that mistakes are made. Automating your workflow helps to reduce the amount of human error that can occur when transferring care records, ensuring the documents arrive at the GP practice on time and in the format they prefer.
A digital transfer of care system documents everything. Every step taken throughout the workflow is noted within the system, so you know exactly who is involved in the process and where in the workflow a particular piece of documentation is.
Having a complete audit trail lets you know where the document is as it’s being sent. This visibility allows you to understand how effectively the workflow is being managed, but also lets you see if a document has been rejected, ensuring it returns to the sender.
By digitising your transfer of care process, your organisation can send documents out of area, whilst complying with NHS standards. This allows for greater national reach and a more joined up, seamless transfer of care process.
Implementing a Cloud-based solution means that your staff can access the system and follow the workflow whether they are working on or off site. And with real-time information delivered immediately, you can keep track of what steps have been made and provide quick point of care decisions.
What digital solution is available?
Advanced’s Docman Connect is a scalable solution, which supports the NHS and independent healthcare providers of all sizes to achieve their transfer of care requirements.
Docman Connect replaces fax, post and email, to ensure transfer of care documents are received electronically. It tracks and manages the journey of every document you send, ensuring that it reach its destination in the way that GP practices prefer. It also provides full visibility of the workflow to help Trusts better understand where delays may be occurring.
Documents sent back to GP practices must be done so via a secure and standardised method. Docman Connect encrypts and sends documents in a format that the receiving practice wants and to NHS standards.
If you’re interested in how to enhance your transfer of care, be sure to read more about our Docman Connect solution.