Healthcare and BPM: 10 Questions for Quest Diagnostics and ChartMaxx on Appian Partnership

I’ve giving presenting a free webinar on November 6 at 2 EST about Enterprise Content Management & Business Process Management: A Healthcare Game Changer. I’m taking advantage to continue to press for more use of business process management technology in healthcare. I’m also taking advantage of this opportunity to pepper Quest Diagnostics (@QuestDX) and the ChartMaxx (@ChartMaxx) with questions about BPM and their partnership with Appian (@Appian), a leading BPM company based right here (near) Washington DC.


Over the next few days, between now and November 6, I’ll periodically add a question and an answer to this blog post. Then I’ll tweet it from @wareFLO!

1. Let’s start off with your recently announced partnership with Quest Diagnostics. It made a splash at HIMSS, enough so I created a POW!HIT! Profile for Quest Diagnostics. (POW!HIT! stands for People and Organizations improving Workflow with Health Information Technology.) Tell us about what each of you bring to the partnership and what you intend to accomplish together.

The commitment of Quest Diagnostics and the ChartMaxx team to provide the very best tools and solutions for our clients was the driving force in our strategy to partner with the very best technology producer in BPM (Appian), instead of trying to build it on our own.

This unique collaboration marks a significant advancement in the healthcare IT industry. By combining the award-winning ChartMaxx software with the mobile and social process management capabilities of Appian BPM software, hospitals can improve work efficiencies and collaborate in real-time.

Appian brings the power of a top ranked Business Process solution with flexible, quick workflows that can reach across systems and departments, and that don’t require programming experience. It is the quickest and most cost-effective option to create native mobile apps from workflow processes. Appian has a deep understanding of process improvement and quick deployment technology.

ChartMaxx has the power of more than 20 years of experience in healthcare market, and is 100 percent focused on hospital workflows, processes, regulations, compliance concerns and the challenges hospitals face every day. Both Appian and ChartMaxx teams have a thorough understanding of the regulated and high-pressure environment where facilities are challenged daily to provide the best evidence-based care while cutting costs, working with a large amount of information in various formats/systems, and striving to provide the best experience for the patient.

We believe that the combination of these two highly focused organizations results in a 1+1=3 relationship – combining Appian’s powerful process technologies with the experience, domain knowledge and passion for customer service that the ChartMaxx team exhibits. Together, Appian and ChartMaxx create a unique solution that offers hospitals meaningful interactions with their information, timely collaboration and the tools necessary to bring people and processes together – bringing the next generation of ECM tools to the healthcare market.

2. What is Business Process Management? What is an Intelligent Business Process Management Suite? How are they relevant to issues facing healthcare today?

Excellent question! Search CIO defines Business Process Management as “a systematic approach to making an organization’s workflow more effective, more efficient and more capable of adapting to an ever-changing environment.”

Business Process Management is the concept, Intelligent Business Process Management suite is the toolkit that brings the concept into the day-to-day workings of healthcare organizations. The Business Process Management suite is the toolkit that includes the ability to quickly define processes that are flexible, system agnostic and that can be created, modified and maintained without the need for a programmer and/or programming language. That is just the front end of the process. The toolkit also includes timers, alerts and mobile apps so that users gain actionable, bring-your-own-device access to the information, as well as the unprecedented ability to collaborate quickly and effectively.

What has stood out is that although hospitals may have a common set of problems, the way they need to solve these problems is highly unique to the specific environment. This is where a BPM suite comes into play. You can provide a template that may solve 80% of the problem but it is that last 20% that can be a real challenge. With BPM and the ChartMaxx toolset, we not only provide the 80% template solution, but also the ability to rapidly complete the last 20% of the total solution.

3. Let’s start with the Cloud. Essential to any BPM system is an “engine” that executes, or enacts, user-to-user, user-to-application, and application-application workflows and processes. And what are advantages of putting this workflow engine in the cloud?

The advantage to making much of the user experience web and mobile device based is that the user has the information where and when they need it and they are also able to act on it right now. There is no need to be tied to a terminal within the hospital’s network in order to receive notifications or take action. Another very important topic for hospitals is security. The way that ChartMaxx accesses and displays the information is very secure – users only see data that they have permission to access and information is only displayed on the destination device, not stored.

As more and more hospitals are acquired by larger organizations, the need for either a public or private cloud environment becomes more acute as the overhead of maintaining separate systems becomes too cumbersome.

4. How does Appian add Mobile technology to this mix? How can this help healthcare?

Appian’s mobile application technology is unique. Once a workflow process is defined, it takes literally one click in a checkbox to make that process work natively across the most popular mobile platforms. This eliminates the need for a specialized programming staff with the knowledge to program on each of these platforms, and speeds up the development process by a factor of months.

This common build environment also eliminates the subtle differences and unique bugs that creep into multiple development efforts where different platforms need to be kept in functional synchronization.

Forrester has estimated that development of a mobile app can cost upwards of $250,000 per platform. Such projects also take months of planning, testing and refining effort. Imagine reducing all that to a single click! Combining the power of the ChartMaxx healthcare workflow expertise and Appian mobile accelerates actionable information to remove bottlenecks and streamline workflows. Also the mobile technology allows us to build workflow applications for areas that are well suited for mobile devices like Wound Care where photos of the wound can be taken using a smart device and quickly uploaded as part of the patient file. Another example is Home Health and the ability to capture a patient signature on a mobile device.

5. What is “WorkSocial”? How does Appian deliver it? How can healthcare benefit?

The benefits of social platforms are that they are immediate, intuitive and virtually effortless. One of the ways that the Appian executives like to introduce the technology is to launch the app and hand their device over with an invitation for the newcomer to just try it out. The newcomer discovers that they can navigate, interact and fully understand the interface instantly. No training, no bulky screens with uncountable buttons or menus.

The advantage to bringing these social tools into the healthcare business world through our ChartMaxx ECM platform is that the processes themselves are simplified, letting the background rules-based processing do the heavy lifting and routing, while the human interactions are limited to the actions that really require a human to review, approve, analyse and/or react in some way – and the human interacts in a focused and intuitive fashion.

WorkSocial not only capitalizes on this commonly used social user interface paradigm, but also extends that paradigm by adding control and actions to the data that is presented. Where social sites can provide a great place to talk about issues, WorkSocial actually solves the issues that are being discussed with both accountability and timeliness.

6. Healthcare conferences, such as the recent HIMSS conference, have lots of presentations and exhibiting vendors focusing on Clinical & Business Intelligence. Tell us about ChartMaxx’s BPM Analytics. Are there analytics, available in BPM software but might not be available in non-BPM software, of particular interest to healthcare audiences?

Our customers tell us that one of their biggest challenges isn’t storing the information; it’s getting it out of the various systems and using it meaningfully. When a healthcare organization installs ChartMaxx ECM, it provides them with SOA technology that enables them to fetch data in real time without having to make copies of the data into yet another system, the data always resides in its home system. The BPM workflows can then sort, aggregate and filter the information as needed for the specific use case. This eliminates the deluge of report data that has no relevance to the task at hand. This intelligent, customizable data processing provides significant performance increases and can quickly highlight the important from the mundane. The data gets to the right person at the right time.

7. Considered separately, Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud technology all seem poised to diffuse throughout healthcare. However, Appian integrates SMAC technologies into a single iBPMS platform. Tell us how this combination works together and how its combination benefits to healthcare.

Combining tools including workflow processes, social interfaces, and mobile access enables healthcare organizations to use business rules and processes to access and sift through the mountains of data, then present only the focused, important information in an actionable form to the executive, clinician or staff member who needs to know or take action. Hospitals are rightly concerned that the dark side of interoperability is the resulting “data tsunami”. Once all that information is available, how does an organization laser focus into the information that is vital for the purpose at hand?

Whether that is population health metrics, on boarding a new employee, registering a patient, tracking implantable devices or collecting funds from insurance companies, these combined tools enable each specific user to have a customized experience where they can access the information they need in order to keep the process going. It is important to note that ChartMaxx ECM processes and tools are easy to modify, so the organization will be able to continue to refine their processes as they discover additional steps, information or other refinements. You develop the solution once and it runs everywhere without having to keep multiple systems in functional synchronization. ChartMaxx ECM also allows the customer to taylor his own solution so that the customer is not bound to the whims of the vendor development cycle.

8. Some of healthcare’s workflows are frequent and routine. Some are infrequent and highly variable, perhaps even one-of-a-kind. How does ChartMaxx support this spectrum from predictable to unpredictable workflows?

As always, the predictable will be easy. Simply have a user describe the process and a Business Analyst level resource can quickly (we are talking hours to days here) map the entire process out as a graphical workflow. The user and management can use the process, communicate refinements and see the results of the refinements quickly. For predictable processes the real win is the quick time to value, elimination of the need to involve IT/programming resources, and the ability to continue to refine the process on an ongoing basis.

A highly variable or infrequent process will experience those advantages too. Prior to these tools, it may not have been cost effective to automate a highly variable or infrequent process – it would absorb too much time, money and resources to make it worthwhile. With the new tool kit from Appian infused into ChartMaxx ECM, the investment in time and resources is minimal, so there is no reason not to automate an infrequent or highly variable process. Once these processes are automated, the facility might reap unexpected gains by having visibility into the process and significantly shorter turnaround times.

9. Do you have any other partners and case studies in the healthcare space you could tell us about or to which you could direct our attention?

ChartMaxx team would be happy to share two new case studies from 2013, as well as two additional client updates. ChartMaxx is also working on bringing our first two sites live on the new BPM-based tools. Stay tuned for more exciting details.

10. Will you have a booth at the next HIMSS conference?

Yes, ChartMaxx will have a booth focused on the launch of our 7.0 release which includes some significant BPM capabilities to empower organizations to improve processes and deliver better outcomes. We would like to discuss potential speaking opportunities at the event with you!

That’s fantastic. I am so excited to see what academics called “process-aware information systems,” or PAISs for short, finally coming to healthcare in such a big way. I’m looking forward to our webinar Enterprise Content Management & Business Process Management: A Healthcare Game Changer tomorrow!

That’s it! I’ve been predicting and looking forward to partnerships between great health IT companies and great BPM companies for years. So I am so delighted to finally see this beginning to happen. And I look forward to hearing great things emerging from the hybrid vigor of this partnership between Quest Diagnostics’ ChartMaxx and Appian.

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