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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Workflows are hard to Change

As an organization, is it easier to change your data model or your workflow?  For all the complaints I've heard about the former, it is almost always changes to the latter that can kill a process improvement initiative.  Ask a provider to complete an extra field on a form they already fill out, or change the forms they've been filling out for years so that they make more sense, and which will they choose?  Invariably, the former rather than the latter, even though the latter may be much more useful.

You actually have to demonstrate that a new workflow is better, because few can hardly imagine it being anything other than what it has been forever.  It isn't all bad though.  I'm beginning to see some evidence that some organizations are paying attention to how they can change workflows to provider better service.  While those organizations are starting to catch on, it will take a while for many others.
Today I made an appointment to see a new Dentist (finding and scheduling dental appointments is somehow much easier than doctors).  After registering me in their system over the phone, the office staff pointed me to the forms they have for me to print out online.  Eventually they'll get to the point where it is safe and easy for me to fill them out and submit them online or over e-mail, but that will take another decade.

The very fact that they were willing to change their workflow to gather the same data though, while they had me engaged on the phone making an appointment, left me impressed.

What are you experiences changing workflows in your organization?