Are you optimising the healthcare workflows in your dialysis clinics? What are clinical workflows and why do they matter in a dialysis centre?
Clinical workflows play a crucial role in the effective and efficient delivery of healthcare services in dialysis centres. These centres accommodate multi-disciplinary teams, consisting of nephrologists, nurses, technicians, and administrators, who collaborate to provide comprehensive care to patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
The design and implementation of optimised clinical workflows within dialysis centres can lead to improved patient care outcomes, as well as enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness.
Streamlined workflows can further enable teams to deliver care more efficiently, minimise delays, and improve communication and coordination among care providers. Thus, it is imperative for your dialysis centres to establish and continuously evaluate your clinical workflows to ensure that they meet the evolving needs of patients, care providers, and the broader healthcare system.
What is a Clinical Workflow?
A clinical workflow is a series of steps or activities that healthcare providers follow to provide patient care. It typically involves a combination of clinical and administrative tasks that are designed to ensure the timely and efficient delivery of care.
In a multidisciplinary team, each member’s clinical workflow comprises various aspects of care. Various technologies can enhance clinical workflows in a dialysis clinic. They include electronic health records (EHR), mobile computer stations, instant messaging between providers, and alerts on the availability of machines and resources.
Clinical Workflows in a Dialysis Centre
In the context of a dialysis centre, a clinical workflow would involve a series of steps that healthcare providers follow to provide dialysis treatment to patients.
For instance, the clinical workflow for a nurse in a dialysis centre may involve the following steps:
- Greet and assess the patient upon arrival to the centre.
- Review the patient’s medical records, including their dialysis prescription, lab results, and medication history.
- Check the patient’s vital signs, weight, and assess their fluid status.
- Access the dialysis machine and ensure proper functioning and cleanliness.
- Assist the patient with preparation for the dialysis treatment, including needle insertion and positioning.
- Monitor the patient throughout the dialysis treatment, recording vital signs and other observations as needed.
- Administer medications and adjust treatment parameters as necessary.
- Educate the patient on their care plan, including medication management, diet and fluid restrictions, and infection prevention.
- Document all aspects of the patient’s care and treatment in the electronic health record (EHR).
- Communicate and collaborate with the multidisciplinary care team, including the nephrologist, social worker, dietitian, and technician, as needed.
- Clean and disinfect the dialysis machine and work area following the patient’s treatment.
Here are more examples of clinical workflows in a dialysis centre:
Patient Check-In: The patient arrives at the centre and checks in with the front desk staff. They are then directed to the waiting area.
Pre-Dialysis Assessment: A nurse or technician conducts a pre-dialysis assessment of the patient. This involves taking vital signs, reviewing the patient’s medical history, and assessing the patient’s overall health.
Dialysis Preparation: The patient is then prepared for dialysis. This may involve inserting a catheter or accessing a fistula or graft.
Dialysis Treatment: The patient receives dialysis treatment, which typically lasts for several hours.
Post-Dialysis Assessment: After the dialysis treatment is complete, the patient is assessed again by a nurse or technician. This may involve taking vital signs, assessing the patient’s fluid balance, and monitoring for any complications.
Discharge: The patient is discharged from the centre and provided with instructions for follow-up care.
Documentation: Throughout the entire process, healthcare providers document the patient’s care in the electronic health record (EHR).
Overall, the clinical workflow for a dialysis centre is designed to ensure that patients receive safe, effective, and efficient care. By following a standardised process, healthcare providers can ensure that all necessary steps are taken and that patients receive the highest quality care possible.
How to Automate Clinical Workflows in a Dialysis Centre
Given the tedious paperwork and administrative tasks involved in dialysis, it makes sense to automate the clinical workflows in a dialysis centre. Doing so ensures that the best medical care and high-quality services are provided while ensuring patient safety.
Clinical workflow automation in a healthcare setting typically involves using tools and solutions to streamline patients’ records, reduce (or eliminate) the need for manual entries, and improve operational efficiency.
By optimising clinical workflows, healthcare providers can reduce errors, minimise delays, and enhance communication and collaboration among care team members. This, in turn, can lead to better patient outcomes and improved healthcare delivery.
#1 Automating Electronic Health Records
In a dialysis centre, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) can be automated in several ways:
Automated data entry: EHRs can be designed to automatically pull patient data from various sources, such as lab results, vital signs monitors, and medical devices.
Customised templates: Templates for dialysis-specific documentation, such as dialysis prescription, medication administration, and fluid management can be developed and pre-populated with patient data. This improves documentation and increases efficiency.
Automated alerts: EHRs can be configured to generate automated alerts for various scenarios, such as missed appointments, overdue lab tests, or potential drug interactions. These alerts can help providers to proactively manage patient care and avoid adverse events.
Automated reporting: EHRs can generate automated reports on various aspects of patient care, such as treatment outcomes, medication adherence, and clinical quality measures. These reports can help dialysis centres to identify opportunities for improvement and monitor performance over time.
#2 Computerised Physician Order Entry (CPOE)
Another example of a useful workflow automation is the Computerised Physician Order Entry (CPOE) system.
A CPOE system allows nephrologists to enter orders for medications, lab tests, imaging studies, and other interventions directly into an electronic health record (EHR) system. The system then automatically processes the order, routing it to the appropriate department or provider for fulfilment.
In a dialysis centre, a CPOE system could also be used to automate the process of ordering lab tests or medications for dialysis patients. Instead of relying on paper-based orders or verbal orders, the healthcare provider could enter the order directly into the EHR system. The system would then automatically route the order to the appropriate department or provider, ensuring that the order is fulfilled in a timely and accurate manner.
#3 Clinical Decision Support (CDS)
Automating Clinical Decision Support (CDS) systems in a dialysis centre may involve providing real-time guidance to healthcare providers. They can also be integrated with Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and other clinical systems to analyse patient data and provide actionable recommendations.
For instance, a CDS system can monitor a patient’s lab results and alert the nephrologist when the patient’s creatinine levels rise above a certain threshold. The system can recommend an adjustment in the dialysis prescription to improve the patient’s clearance of waste products. The recommendation can be sent directly to the nephrologist’s EHR, prompting them to review and adjust the prescription as needed.
Another example is using CDS systems to provide alerts and reminders to healthcare providers about medication administration. For instance, the system can alert a nurse when it’s time to administer a patient’s medication or remind them of the medication’s potential side effects or drug interactions. This can help to prevent medication errors and improve patient safety.
#4 Communication Between Care Team Members
With the right software, communication between care team members can be automated — for instance sending lab results to the nephrologist, or notifying the dietician of a patient’s dietary needs.
This improves care coordination and enhances communication among care team members.
#5 Patient Tracking
Another example of a useful clinical workflow automation solution is a patient tracking system. Such a feature allows healthcare providers to track the progress of patients as they move through the healthcare system.
For example, in a dialysis centre, a patient tracking system could be used to monitor the status of each patient as they move through the various stages of the dialysis treatment process. The system would automatically update the patient’s status as they check in, receive treatment, and are discharged from the centre, allowing healthcare providers to monitor the patient’s progress in real-time and ensure that they receive the highest quality care possible.
#6 Patient Scheduling
Using automated scheduling systems, dialysis centres can also schedule patient appointments, send appointment reminders, and manage cancellations and rescheduling. This can save a significant amount of time and effort, eliminating paperwork.
Automating clinical workflows in a dialysis centre can have significant benefits for both patients and healthcare providers. By reducing tedious work and minimising human errors, automation can help to improve the accuracy of clinical workflows, leading to better patient outcomes.
Automation can also enhance the work environment by reducing staff burnout and increasing job satisfaction. Additionally, by streamlining workflows, automation can save costs and increase efficiency, allowing healthcare providers to focus more on providing quality care to patients.
Overall, automation in a dialysis centre can help to improve the quality of patient care, reduce errors, increase efficiency, and enhance the work environment, making it an essential investment for any healthcare facility.