Coming from both Enterprise Computing and Healthcare backgrounds, the team was surprised to find out that while Health Care Organizations (HCOs) pursue care-process improvement with Lean, analytics, and other approaches, they haven't adopted Business Process Management (BPM) - a field with many well-developed concepts and tools that have enabled measurements, analyses, and optimizations of processes in other industries.

We wanted to determine the disconnects between the current BPM methodologies and tools, and care processes. Then we wanted to devise a solution that would bring the proven process improvement methodologies to healthcare delivery.

But it's easier said than done. Currently, BPM (and its existing tools) makes a lot of sense when applied to a relatively fixed activities to produce relatively fixed business values (e.g. a widget). But healthcare delivery is anything but fixed - patients and providers are unique, care pathways and care processes are not standardized within and across HCOs, and care outcomes are certainly not widgets.

What it does

Our solution enables an HCO targeting a specific care process (e.g. "Discharge planning to post-hospital follow up") to quickly put together, by drag-and-drop, a Care Flow Map consisting of listener/action nodes. This Care Flow Map guides both the patient and his/her care team members through the care process with end-user functions, including reminders, alerts, messaging, tracking, automated inputs, device connectivity, and document management, to achieve necessary care coordination and integration with IT systems such as EMRs.

As it coordinates for multiple patients through their care pathways, it measures and analyzes various process metrics into process intelligence, which may be used to improve or even re-engineer the care process. It includes process improvement tools such as A/B Testing to help achieve the optimization goals.

How we built it

We assembled a core team with healthcare IT, EMR, enterprise computing, clinical process, UI/UX, and full-stack software development experiences.

We researched for the disconnects between current BPM and care processes.

We hypothesized the shape and form of solution that HCOs would adopt.

We looked at systems that have similarities to the solution we were envisioning.

We spoke with more than 40 people in the healthcare industry, including front-line clinicians, Medical Directors, CMOs, CMIOs, healthcare IT senior managers and workers. We synthesized and prioritized from our experiences and learning a set of user stories / requirements.

We designed and built our current demonstration system.

Challenges we ran into

As we were working toward the Athena Health hackathon deadline, starting only from 2 months prior to the deadline, the team had very little time to design and build the system.

We made hard decisions on balancing the features/functions we wanted to show, and the levels of depth/refinement we could achieve. The biggest challenge is to stay within scope, we all have many good ideas, and need to make hard decision on which features should be pushed back and focus on our core value.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

With the groundwork and descriptions of the system (its functions and benefits), we are among the 6 finalists of the UCSF Department of Medicine Tech Challenge, and we just won an innovation grant from UCSF DOM.

We successfully practiced LEAN and Agile product development methodology and brought together the bits and pieces that we targeted for in the demonstration system, starting from assembling the team just 2 months ago. There's still a lot of work to be done, but we see the potential of this team accomplishing the feat together.

What we learned

It became apparent over the course of the project that the problem/solution we are tackling is so fundamental that prospective end users / customers were grappling with understanding its potential revolutionary impacts on process improvements. That drove us to closing the gap with integrating day-to-day end-user functions with the Care Flow Map so the solution will provide immediate, tangible values to the current care coordination environments. That certainly increased our original scope. However, we realized that it is the same struggle many technology companies might have faced with.

What's next for Slack for Healthcare

Implement LucidAct at our pilot customer site, collect data and evidence, learn from the care team and demonstrate that LucidAct can improve team efficiency by 10X.

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