Staywell has gone through a rapid expansion, which has resulted in them needing to handle a large volume of referrals. These referrals not only contain confidential patient information, but also internal information that is used by Staywell's administration team to manage the referral from start to finish.
Each referral requires a number of tasks to be completed, however exactly which tasks are required depends on the nature of the referral. Examples of tasks include emailing information to the client or clinician, uploading files to the secure storage area, or sending out the invoice.
As the volume of referrals has increased, it became apparent that a robust and secure system needed to be put into place, to ensure that all necessary tasks are being performed for each referral. Since Staywell's requirements are quite specific, it was difficult to find an off-the-shelf solution and thus a bespoke solution was sought.
The Desired Outcome
A solution was required that would allow the administration staff to manage referrals quickly and efficiently, with enough safeguards to minimise the risk of errors. This includes data validation, gated processes and hiding unnecessary information.
As the team has to deal with a large volume of referrals every day, the new system would ideally allow multiple users to enter data simultaneously, but prevent users from overwriting each other's edits. The solution would also need to have a management console, to enable appropriate users to see all referrals at-a-glance, and to be able to assign different tasks to the administration team members.
As the owner of Staywell is quite adept at using Microsoft Excel, he was able to develop a prototype for us to review, which used forms and sheet protection to make it behave like a bespoke application.
Whilst Microsoft Excel was suitable for a developing a prototype, we ultimately decided that a web-based system would be more appropriate.
This was primarily driven by the fact that multiple users would need to use the solution simultaneously (Microsoft Excel is not ideal for handling multiple users in a single workbook). Another advantage is that a web application is more secure than an Excel spreadsheet, as the latter can be easily copied to another workbook, or become lost or corrupted. As confidential patient information was being captured, robust data security was essential.
After testing the system in-situ, we realised that we needed to prevent the relatively uncommon scenario where two users were editing the exactly same referral at the same time. After discussing potential solutions with Staywell, we were able to come up with a feature to lock each referral for a set period of time to prevent users from overwriting each other's changes.
We continued to add additional quality-of-life enhancements to the system, such as the ability to pre-generate a password for locking the attachments that were being sent via email. These quality-of-life enhancements greatly reduced the amount of time spent on each referral.
Finally, we included a secure API within the solution that exposed the data in JSON format. This allowed the owner to create his own live dashboard using Microsoft Excel, circumventing the need to get external developers to create additional reports within the solution itself.
The solution has become a core element in Staywell's operations, allowing for large volumes of referrals to be handled by a small team of administrative staff.
Some of the main advantages of the new solution are:
- Streamlined processes - users can manage every aspect of a referral from a single solution, without clashing with other team members.
- Reduced risk of errors - data validation and visual cues are used to assist the user in checking for errors, or preventing them entirely.
- Connectivity - the API allows third-party applications such as Microsoft Excel and PowerBI to connect to, interrogate and visualise the raw data.
- Secure - confidential data is held on an internal database within the company and can only be accessed via users with a login to the new system.
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