Taking Care of Business: Why Context and Need are at the Heart of Business Process Design

Nowhere is the answer to the business question “Why?” more striking and evident than in healthcare. When people begin to think in terms of “Why do we do this?” and “Why do it that way?”, the answers inherently gush with reasons that make you sit up and take note. And nowhere have we paid witness to answers and reasons that are so incomplete as to send shivers up and down our spines. If you’re not sure what we mean, give up an afternoon of your time, sit in your local emergency room and watch how people there do their thing. It’s free, entertaining and the best open source forum for organic, dynamic examples of workflow and process in action.  You won’t be sorry.

From this healthcare standpoint, let us say a few things about context. First of all, if you’re relatively new to business process management, analysis, re-engineering, and design then you should become fluent in context diagrams. Context models and diagrams allow you to illustrate (simply) understanding of the transactions between stakeholders or entities and the outcomes that are expected as a result. For instance, if a hospital submits a billing to an insurance company, the expected outcome is a payment. These diagrams also take into account indirect interactions. In doing so, they begin to conjure SIPOC  diagrams (see: Six Sigma) but are different in that they take a very broad business process overview that includes all of the possible stakeholders (direct and indirect) and display – at once – all of the interactions in simple, straight-line fashion.

Business Process Overview – The Bird’s Eye View of Context

By illustrating all of the transactions and expected outcomes possible over an entire array of workflow and activities in a highly simplified diagram, the reader gains immediate insight into the context and the needs of all of the stakeholders (my expected outcome is directly related to my need). This may sound elementary but we promise you that in this highly inter-dependent and inter-connected world, few people grasp and understand the value and relationships involved in the working world they inhabit. Again – for the healthcare field – how many people understand that the answers, information and data they harvest are being used by Immigration, CDC, Public Health, Policy and Legislative, and Insurance officials simultaneously for vastly different reasons?

Healthcare Context DiagramExample Healthcare Context Diagram

Taking Care – Taking Heart

When people understand fully the value of their work product, when they can see themselves and their activities in full view of the context, then they grow more intimately connected to the people and stakeholders they are in exchange with. It isn’t a matter of giving you what you asked for. It  is a matter of helping you satisfy a goal or a need. If I work in a restaurant for example , the meal I serve may be the context for a marriage proposal, a landmark business deal, a birthday or the only respite a couple will get from their hectic schedules. That meal may be what restores patience or hope. If I work in a clinic and I have to enter data today, I may be entering the data that enables an epidemiologist to spot a viral outbreak or I may be entering the data that assures my patient of full and prompt insurance coverage. I may be avoiding a medication error and saving their lives. If it sounds dramatic, context reminds us that  it is.

Share

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>