EHR selection and implementation, usability, and software design all share a common set of goals, the most important of which are ensuring that users are productive and that patients receive quality care. Workflow analysis as an adjunct to system selection and implementation is old news (1). Perhaps, the recent ground swell of interest in usability and, by extension software design, points to another potentially useful application of workflow data. Obviously, software design and usability affect implementation and productivity. Why not, then, use the knowledge captured during workflow analysis across all four areas?
Properly conducted, workflow analysis reveals important information about what occurs in an organization. Analyzing key processes and determining the tasks involved in completing them helps organizations to eliminate redundancies and identify activities requiring further optimization (1). Conceivably, workflow data taken from a representative cross-section of similar organizations could prove to be useful for software designers. For example, having workflow data from 500 primary care internal medicine practices should provide invaluable information to software designers concerning clinician work habits and information needs that could be mapped directly to EHR software features, functions, and workflows. It seems reasonable to assume that this type of information would be helpful for other healthcare initiatives such as meaningful use and patient safety as well.