Harnessing the Power of Mobile Computing Through Workflow Management

Author: Son Gupta, MS

Primary Advisor: Kim Dunn, MD, PhD

Committee Members: Jiajie Zhang, PhD

Masters thesis, The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston.

Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementations strive to address three major challenges:
1. Minimize disruption of healthcare provider workflow
2. Reduce variance in delivery of care to improve patient safety and
3. Coordinate information flow between providers.
Since healthcare providers are mobile, tying their work to a desktop workstation disrupts their workflow. Mobile computing devices minimize disruption of provider workflow by making information available at the point of care. Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSS) strive to reduce variance in the delivery of care and improve patient safety. However, communication between providers is clearly the most important factor in reducing variance (versus provision of information for clinical decision-making). In order to coordinate information flow, healthcare organizations are experimenting with various devices including pagers and VoIP phones. These devices connect providers but not in the context of clinical information. Workflow management systems (WfMS) can coordinate clinical information by sending the right information to the appropriate provider/s at the right time. Workflow management systems can also incorporate traditional CDSS capabilities. Healthcare delivery is comprised of a number of healthcare processes to accomplish a certain goal. Each step in a process is highly dependent on the results of other steps, all of which must be done in a timely manner. Efficient care is provided when physicians make correct decisions at the right time with the help of relevant patient information and decision support tools, without disrupting their workflow. This paper presents a model that combines mobile computing and workflow management with clinical decision support. The power of the combination is illustrated by examples and supported by literature analysis. This model of mobile computing can simultaneously facilitate provider workflow, reduce variance in delivery of care and coordinate information flow between providers. It can accomplish the identified goal by efficiently delivering each step in the process in a timely manner.