What is workflow?

Read the frequently asked questions on workflow.

  • What is workflow?

    Workflow is the sequence of physical and mental tasks performed by various people within and between work environments. It can occur at several levels (one person, between people, across organizations) and can occur sequentially or simultaneously.

    For example, the workflow of ordering a medication includes communication between the provider and the patient, the provider's thought process, the physical action by the provider of writing a paper prescription or entering an electronic prescription into an electronic health record and transmitting the order electronically or having the patient take the prescription to the pharmacy to have the prescription filled.

  • What must I consider when I think about workflow?

    Always keep in mind that workflow occurs between organizations; between people at a clinic; in one's head; and before, during, or after a patient visit.

  • Why is it important to assess workflow?

    Anytime you make a change to your practice, especially when implementing health IT, the workflow associated with clinical and practice management processes will change.

  • What are consequences of not analyzing workflow?

    Research assessing health IT implementations demonstrates that delays in patient care, billing, and communication are likely to occur if workflow is not taken into account. This is generally due to the fact that clinical and practice management requirements are overlooked or oversimplified.

  • How do I analyze workflow?

    This toolkit provides a number of resources to help you get started. Depending on your needs, you may wish to:

  • Who should collect & analyze workflow?

    Regardless of size, your clinic needs to identify at least one person to oversee the assessment of current and anticipated workflows.

  • When should I assess workflow?

    You need to collect workflow information as early as possible, and preferably before implementing a health IT system. As a form of ongoing process improvement, you should continue to assess workflows post implementation.

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