Can Electronic Health Records (EHR) expose quality opportunities in our current Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) mapping process? A recent study shows that EHR information can provide significant opportunities to improve FMEA mapping in the quality process. FMEA mapping simply outlines steps in any given process, then identifies and prioritizes the potential opportunities for failure. By using this systematic and prioritized method, teams can make consistent and continuous improvement. Conversely, when information is left unidentified in the FMEA, can real improvement be made?
Quality Opportunities Missed in FMEA
To understand this potential opportunity, researchers recently conducted a study where actual patient data was utilized and provided to a mock quality committee. As with any other FMEA, the committee put together their FMEA mapping based on the information provided to them. The research team then compared the information in the committee’s FMEA mapping the actual data identified in the EHR. The results were enlightening. The study showed that 35% of the processes completed were not identified in the committees FMEA mapping. More illuminating was the fact that people from 12 different categories or positions were involved in the discharge process, and not in the original FMEA mapping. Further, what the original FMEA mapping identified as one activity in their map, EHR data showed it was actually a multi-stepped process, involving completely different people.
EHR Strengthens FMEA Mapping
This study clearly shows the potential EHR has to strengthen and extend the reach of current FMEA mapping processes. Significant amounts of data previously undiscovered in EHR could have a dramatic effect on the success of FMEA mapping. Lean Six Sigma professionals should look to EHR as an untapped resource that could expose significant opportunities for success in your quality improvement opportunities. Use the EHR to drill down to any quality improvement opportunities that are truly hidden gems of quality.
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