Department of Medicine 2016 Tech Challenge

New Uses of Information Technology to Advance the Missions of the Department of Medicine

Defining and connecting the dots: a novel low-code healthcare process manager

Idea Status: 

Key Team Members:  Cheong S. Ang, MS, MBA, Grace Chen, MS, Lisa Hsiao, MArch, and George Su, MD

Problem Statement: Healthcare is complex, and some key intricacies come from linkages between stakeholders, agents, and dependencies. These are further complicated by care adjustments, iteration, inconstant human behavior, and inherent health and safety implications. Healthcare delivery can be distilled, however, as in other industry sectors, down to relatively simple processes. Despite a widespread strategic focus on process in healthcare, process management in healthcare remains profoundly underdeveloped. Dominant existing tools, such as the electronic medical record (EMR), are designed to house static data, and less to manage, map, or codify active processes. Thus, the healthcare system is relegated to managing healthcare processes with ad hoc workaround solutions, in addition to EMRs, such as spreadsheets, email prompts, calendars, and project management platforms—not to mention high-effort solutions like checklists and registries.

Innovation:  We’ve developed a novel, low-code application that organizes and contextualizes healthcare processes into a care pathway map, so that all users – from the healthcare team to the patient – are aware of and accountable to the healthcare plan. This involves the distillation of main healthcare processes into a kit-of-parts of “Actions and Nodes” which organizes workflows, tasks, manipulated objects (e.g. documents and records), roles, and agents into a timeline of tasks, dependencies, and results. This inherently flexible application transforms the volume of data for an individual into a coherent patient story. It also creates a powerful tool that can be used to optimize workflows, clinical care, and patient engagement.       

Solution description:

A.  Care pathway map

  • A user-centered synthesis of process elements (e.g. “patient journey” or “administrator workflow”) maps Actions and Nodes into an IoT (“Internet of Things”) mesh network.
  • The execution of Actions can be manually or automatically documented.
  • Nodes are junction points that, depending upon clinical inputs (tests, labs, diagnostic studies, provider decisions), can trigger new actions in a patient’s overall care pathway.
  • Users, including “agents”, “team members”, “stakeholders”, “patient” etc. are assigned “roles” and relevant preferences.
  • Add-on functions, such as task listing, reminders, prompts, document management (faxing, e-signatures), and communication modalities (email, SMS), are configured to function within Actions and Nodes.
  • Customized task lists are sortable by due date, priority, responsible party, care path destination, care path status, activity level, risk category, patient identifiers and characteristics.

 B. Analytics package for Process Management

  • Identifies key metrics to measure achievement of goals, outcomes, and efficiencies
  • Constructs “intelligent care pathways” through business intelligence and process goal targets
  • Compares different pathways, clinics, and systems through benchmarking
  • Provides a simple way to generate special reports, e.g. Chronic Care Management (CCM) effort reporting

Potential Impact:  A legitimate process management tool for healthcare has promise to dramatically improve provision of patient care. Efficiencies are realized by automating manual tasks and eliminating redundancies. Accountability and safety are enhanced by enforcing priority levels, driving task completion, maintaining pathway momentum, closing follow-up gaps, and raising attention to vulnerabilities. Patient involvement is encouraged and patient satisfaction is increased through new engagement opportunities at Actions and Nodes. Healthcare systems will have the agility to adapt to changing conditions, leverage newly-transparent processes to improve operational decision-making, and utilize new tools to intelligently manage process-related costs.   

Current solution status:  An IoT mesh network platform prototype and a minimally viable product (MVP) have been built (see attachment for sample screenshots). We seek funds to continue software development and to support evaluation of a pilot project based at San Francisco General Hospital. We also seek UCSF product development expertise and counsel.


Supporting Documents: 

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