Charles Webster, MD, on innovative workflow in healthcare

Charles Webster, MD, on innovative workflow in healthcare


We’re here at HIMSS17 speaking with Chuck Webster who is the president of EHR Workflow but he is also a social media ambassador and a very well-known force when it comes to workflow – as a matter of fact, you have a number of different titles when it comes to your audience on social media. Now one of them is Dr. Workflow but there’s a bunch of other ones as well. Yes, Beth, and that’s Dr. Workflow with a kind of a Dr. Strangelove feel to it there is the King of all Workflow in Healthcare, there’s the Workflow Bear, as in if you poke me, I come out and I roar, and then of course I have an alter ego who doesn’t say much and it’s Batman but it says “Workflow” so that’s the super hero of workflow Alright well we’re going to poke the workflow barrel a little bit today and we were talking earlier and you were saying 2010 was kind of a turning point in terms of workflow coming out of the shadows, if you will, as a major force within the sector, so talk about why it was so underappreciated and what brought it out. Well, for a long time human beings didn’t realize there were such a thing as air. It was just around them, they took it for granted. That’s exactly the way workflow is. In healthcare we are embedded in workflows, all purposeful human activity involves workflow. However, workflow as a topic is increasingly important in marketing, and that is, we make your workflow better, we’re seamless with your workflow and we don’t disrupt your workflow at the very least, and I want to say around 2010 since then every year I have looked at every single exhibitor of every single HIMSS conference website and there was very little of workflow but you could see it coming and now today between a third and a half of all exhibitor websites and that’s thirteen fourteen hundred or whatever, have some kind of workflow story and you’ll find it sometimes in the marketing and that is, you know, “We understand your workflow.” There’s nothing more powerful than someone, a vendor, saying: “I know what your workflow is. You do this and this and this, don’t you?” And they say, “How did you know that?” because that’s sort of inside but it’s really a form of intimacy and acknowledgement that really, my gosh! These people understand me! Now you’re also heavily involved with the Innovation Makerspace and there’s a very notable relationship between workflow and what you’re doing at the Makerspace so talk about that. Okay, well, let me show you that first of all I’ve got my little 3D printed pocket protector, okay? And then behind it I’ve got this little you know it’s called a dev board, it’s arduino-compatible – I won’t demo it at the moment – I’ve got a little 3d actually a laser cut social media ambassador badge I made one for all the social media ambassadors and making maker movement is all about creating things and when you create something, you’re empowered. You’re closer to the problems, so your solution often is a better solution and there’s a kind of an analogy: if doctors and nurses could create their own workflows and control their own workflows as opposed to making the workflow fit the IT tool. So instead of being the tool to the tool they can have control and so I see it kind of a connection between using tools to create cool little robots and making them do exactly what you want to entertain for example a pediatric patient and customizing workflows in electronic health records. You know, we talked about workflow finally coming out of the shadows, now it’s in the forefront within the healthcare sector. Where you see it going in five years in terms of innovation and the crucial nature of it at that point? Well, up to now, we’ve really been talking about healthcare workflow – we’ve not been talking so much about workflow technology and there’s this wonderful thing called a workflow engine just think if your car didn’t have an engine you’d have to work really really hard like Fred Flintstone and make the car go. The engine is what makes things happen. Well about 5% – about 75 or 80 exhibitors at HIMSS – actually mentioned workflow engines someplace on their website and those workflow engines can take descriptions of workflow that you just draw out. I’m gonna give you an example: there’s something called BPMN (Business Process Modeling Notation) and you can draw out a workflow and the workflow engine will execute that drawing of workflow just like a computer program or a computer will execute a program. Just think, if the people who aren’t a C-sharp programmer or a Java programmer, someone who is on the front line who really understands their workflows, just think if they could create and change their own workflows so they could do their job well. That’s what’s going to be happening over the next five years. It goes right back to what you were just saying about physicians having more control, being able to change something that doesn’t suit them, as opposed to them having to adapt their care… So, instead of being a tool of a tool, you know, a human tool of a IT tool, the IT tool becomes a tool of the human. Okay, well, Chuck, thank you so much for spending some time with us today. You are watching HIMSS17 TV.

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