• Jonathan White

Everything in Healthcare Is a Task

In 1966 Abraham Maslow published The Psychology of Science. He famously wrote “it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

This has been popularized to, “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” We, at Dock Health, created a task management platform for healthcare (our hammer). You may excuse us, then, if we contend that everything in healthcare is a task (our nail). We further contend that tasks are the actionable units of healthcare. It is at the individual task level that healthcare actually gets done.

That may sound overly simplistic (or self-serving), but walk with me through this exercise where I’ll eventually ask you, in the vein of a popular meme, to “change my mind.”

Having spent years mastering skills (or are they tasks?) themselves, the order tasks should fall, who should do them, what impacts they can drive, and other critical aspects of delivering care, you are then qualified to perform certain tasks in the field of healthcare:

If you are a clinician, you might: Perform this test, examine this system, prescribe this treatment, document this encounter

If you are a nurse, you might: Take this history, perform this examination, administer this medication

If you are an administrator, you might: Install this system, ensure HIPAA compliance, optimize this process, hire this person, maintain this certification

If you are staff member, you might: Get this form, create this appointment, obtain this authorization

If you are within a pharmaceutical company, you might: Run this clinical trial, recommend this protocol

If you are a payer, you might: Authorize this procedure or medication, process this claim

If you are within a healthcare services company, you might: Take this sample, perform this test, fill this order

If you are a patient, you might: Fill this prescription, do this activity, follow this diet, use this device, fill out these forms

Ok, ok, enough. For the sake of this argument, let’s agree for now that everything in healthcare is a task or nail as we’ve mentioned above. Why then, are we using screwdrivers (sticky notes), wrenches (Excel spreadsheets), pliers (emails), when what we need is a hammer. Not a sledge hammer (EHR), just a streamlined tool with a weighted head and a long handle swung to deliver an impact to a small or directed area.

Taking it one step further -- what if that nail is confidential by law? Most of these above tasks contain PHI. Wouldn’t we need a secure (HIPAA compliant) hammer?

Finally, what if there were many nails in many boards? We would need many hammers or a way to share hammers across all the boards if we are going to be able to build the house (care for the patient).

The state of the healthcare industry today is that clinical tasks (orders, etc) have a home – the EHR. The EHR is a great platform for documenting, storing and accessing data. The administrative tasks --which far outnumber the clinical tasks -- do not have a home and are complicated workflows by nature with broader teams. The incumbent systems, such as sticky notes, Excel spreadsheets and so many emails, are inadequate tools for the job.

Enter Dock – a HIPAA compliant task and process management platform. Dock serves as a hub for team tasks – providing secure collaboration with patient context, providing transparency and accountability throughout the process, filling the gap between clinical and administrative work, closing the loop on completed tasks, and delivering peace of mind for everyone on the team.

Once these tasks have a home in a collaborative platform, they can be assigned or delegated, and tracked with transparency and accountability. This is when tasks become actionable. Team members have visibility into the process. Collaborators outside organizations can be brought into the loop or access on-demand statuses with little effort. Tasks can flow freely between all the silos of healthcare.

Now we have interconnectivity – but that’s a story for another day.

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