Process Management in Global Healthcare: Innovation in a Crisis

Written by Lucas de Boer | 5 min read
Published on: May 28th 2020 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020
process management in global healthcare - Surgical Team

On the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, healthcare professionals are holding the lives of patients in their hands, while facing serious challenges of their own. Deploying a process management initiative allows healthcare professionals to fully focus on patient care, while also benefiting from operational efficiencies, and making more informed decisions. Read on to learn how a process initiative can help healthcare professionals, as well as patients and families.

In “normal” times, the consequence of decisions on topics like operational efficiency, service stability, and ROI can break governments and change communities. In the case of a global pandemic, these issues become even more critical. Health systems in countries around the world are struggling; some are already overwhelmed. But within this gloomy prognosis, there is strong statistical evidence for deploying process management in global healthcare to improve patient wellbeing.

The case for deploying process management in global healthcare

Using process management technology in a healthcare setting is innovative. Using it in conjunction with accepted “clinical pathway” care plans is revolutionary. After all, if the objective of healthcare trusts and care services is to reduce costs without decreasing the quality of patient care, industry leaders must use modern technologies to balance price and quality against efficiency.

This approach can modernize core processes and systems to support new clinical practices, regulatory standards, cost reimbursement methods, and government regulations. Indeed, the BPM framework offers all this whilst optimizing processes and responding rapidly to changing healthcare and life sciences attributes.

Process management and the clinical pathway revolution

Highlighting the revolutionary use of process management in global healthcare, Italy’s largest pediatric hospital, Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, used a Business Process Management (BPM) platform for six months to manage patients’ clinical pathway care plans. Their evaluation showed a significant return on investment, both as an effective institution, and in the resulting improvements in patient care. Key data demonstrated:

  • The application helped physicians and nurses to reduce the amount of time and resources they devoted to management purposes by close to 60%.
  • Staff reported “real benefits regarding resources optimization and quality improvement.”
  • Automatic email planning for nurses performing medical exams reduced human error, meaning “the quality of data and reliability of the pathway scheduling have been seriously improved.”

The hospital also noted that BPM empowers clinicians to design necessary protocols without IT involvement, allowing for real-time and ad-hoc problem solving with a focus on patient care activities. Access and integration of clinical repository data is also improved during follow-up activities, and indeed clinical data collection and analysis is enhanced over an entire care project.

Process management in global healthcare

We can categorize the benefits of process management within healthcare as the “3 As.” They give medical professionals the power to:

  • Adapt: Reducing the time to implement change;
  • Align: Providing visibility and governance across the decision management life cycle;
  • Act: Sensing and responding to actionable situations, based on clear information about any detected event.

In a crisis situation, these three principles are the cornerstones of any effective response. Putting these principles into practice relies on a fundamentally sound operational environment, however—which is why operations management in healthcare is so crucial.

Operations management in healthcare

The objective of operations management is to organize and optimize the way an organization uses resources in order to drive efficiency. To do this, an in-depth analysis of the practices used and the business processes is carried out to identify areas where improvements can be made and thus move towards operational excellence. Operations management in healthcare focuses on four main areas:

  • Patients. The objective is to offer and ensure quality care while controlling the costs of the care journey and the efficiency of the processes that underpin it.
  • The data. Collect and analyze the data contained in the various systems via process mining technology to identify bottlenecks within the various processes and launch optimization initiatives to achieve operational excellence.
  • Process optimization. An inefficient or obsolete process can result in additional costs and, more importantly, may not meet patient expectations. Implementing continuous improvement is the way to go.
  • Communication. Aligning all teams by sharing goals and process portfolios to work transparently and in a common direction.

The management of healthcare operations is important because it helps to strengthen the operational performance of the structure at several levels and in different departments, with better controlled costs, enhanced quality, more efficient care pathways, time saved, and compliance assured.

The business case for process management in global healthcare

Healthcare is a basic necessity around the entire globe. International health professionals in countries, states, and governments must oversee primary, secondary, and tertiary care, as well as regulating public health institutions. Even before COVID-19, a familiar refrain was that costs are spiraling, but global health is deteriorating.

To take just one example, a recent report from the UK-based Care Quality Commission (CQC) shows up to 20% of hospital referrals in England are unnecessary, thanks to the lack of connectivity between care providers and the subsequent need for improvement in care record sharing.

In light of this, a business case for process management solutions can seem clear. By deploying a process management tool, the handoff between departments becomes smoother, the process for record-keeping is clearer, while transparency and accountability are tightened.

In addition, BPM will produce the statistical data required to monitor and improve patient care in real-time, while the simulation capability zeros the risk when calculating scenarios for clinical pathways. The result is consistent improvement in patient wellbeing, one process at a time.

The need for process change

The same CQC report also highlights the need for dramatic process management improvements, with an estimated 1.2 million people not receiving the help they need (an increase of 18% since 2016). Healthcare trusts in England also struggle to manage the number of outpatient appointments, even while up to 20% of patients do not attend those appointments. Remember, this information was gathered in a pre-COVID-19 world: the strain on health services as a result of the pandemic call for a more urgent prioritization of effective processes.

By initiating process management, global healthcare authorities and hospitals can become proactive to citizen needs, offering services that they are entitled to and making suggestions on preventative care rather than just delivering treatments.

Process management: healthcare and changing capabilities

Patients expect high-quality service on demand, whether they are unfortunate enough to experience an accident or require elective treatment. Global health service providers need to deliver these functions while meeting the expectations of a digital-oriented customer base who expect a more online service (e.g., patient appointments and care provision)—a need that has only increased thanks to social distancing measures.

However, the organic evolution of many international health systems, including the NHS, mean they are plagued by numerous challenges including manual or only partially automated processes, and complex, historical policy and regulations. Without process management technology, healthcare providers also increase manual labor and are therefore at higher risk of human error. BPM empowers a structured environment to document and modify processes and can ensure all changes meet compliance requirements.

Ultimately, BPM can improve the efficiency of health services to provide a higher quality of care. It supports healthcare professionals and institutions to deliver and enhance their capabilities through self-service and enhanced case management, while also offering a technological solution that can keep pace with policy changes. Thus, healthcare professionals can focus their entire attention on patient care.

Signavio is just what the doctor ordered for process management in global healthcare

As ever, Signavio’s 90-day COVID-19 Rapid Response Package offers immediate help to companies of all types and sizes, including NGOs and healthcare organizations, to ensure business continuity. You can also find details of all our additional resources related to COVID-19, to help you prioritize transformation in a crisis.

You can also learn more about the innovative deployment of process management in global healthcare with our in-depth information flyer, including how Europe’s largest private hospital group has benefited from deploying Signavio across their 17 clinics.

In the meantime, you can follow updates on COVID-19 on the World Health Organization website. On behalf of the entire Signavio team, take care of yourself, your colleagues, and your loved ones.

Published on: May 28th 2020 - Last modified: November 13th, 2020