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February 29, 2012

Understand Your Workflow

At the Institute, we talk about “putting the logical before the physical,” which means that public health agencies have to understand how they do their work before they can consider technology solutions. There is tremendous benefit to looking critically at a task and evaluating whether it can be done more efficiently or effectively, even if there’s no immediate plan to automate it.         

The “universality” of this principle hit home for me a few weeks ago during a visit to Africa. I was meeting with a team of stakeholders in one country who are looking at ways to improve data quality within the country’s healthcare system. Initially, our discussions focused on how to train healthcare practitioners to do a better job collecting information. But as we walked through how information is collected at clinics and hospitals across the country and they saw how that process, or the lack of a process, was contributing to data integrity issues, they came to recognize the value of redesigning and improving workflow. As one team member astutely pointed out, "We can’t think about implementing an electronic medical record system until we fix our paper-based one.”
 

Couldn't have said it better myself. 

David A. Ross, ScD

President/CEO of the Task Force for Global Health, former director of PHII