Need to improve your medical practice's workflow? Try a task list

February 20, 2013

Researchers have developed a primary care task list that describes patient visits to ambulatory clinics that physicians can use as a workflow evaluation tool.

are a hardly a new quality-improvement tool in healthcare, but that doesn't mean they aren't still useful.

With that mind, researchers have developed a primary care task list that describes patient visits to ambulatory clinics that physicians can use as a workflow evaluation tool. The task list, which was published in BMJ Quality & Safety in 2012, was designed to assist primary care practices as they adjust to major changes, such as the adoption of an electronic health records (EHR) system or the transition to a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH).

"This task list is intended to be a flexible tool to assist individuals or groups in analyzing physician workflow before and after changes to the structure and processes of healthcare delivery," wrote the researchers.

The researchers stressed that their list, which consisted of 12 major tasks and 189 subtasks, is intended to be "comprehensive but generic." The necessary tasks at any one medical practice will vary based on numerous factors, including technology, staffing and layout, but the researchers' list can be "leveraged and modified" by practices to study their own unique workflows, according to the study.

Major tasks on the list include: Gather information from patient, review patient information, discuss treatment options, and the like.

The researchers came up with their task list by studying 30 primary care physicians across 17 internal medicine and family medicine practices in Wisconsin and Iowa. The practices were located in rural and urban settings, and some had EHR systems whereas others didn't.

Think a task list can be the starting point for tightening up your practice's workflow? Check out the researchers' list here.

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