Workflows are in use across a variety of industries but workflows benefit public health departments in particular. Public health department staff have many requirements and procedures to follow as well as copious amounts of data to collect and manage. In addition, those requirements can change and procedures may need to be updated.

Workflows are a versatile tool to ensure consistency of procedure, awareness of correct current procedure, visually represent how data should be entered in the EHR/EMR, and are easy to update and maintain. In addition, workflows are an excellent reference during an audit, when training new staff, or during administration turnover.

What is a Workflow?

A workflow is the sequence of industrial, administrative or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion. Workflows are a series of repeatable steps that progress in a logical order.

Often workflows are represented visually in a series of word bubbles with directional indicators. Here is an example of a workflow for a simple task, vacation requests.

Standard or Basic Workflow example showing bubbles containing text describing actions with arrows indicating a path between bubbles


Workflows can include “rules” for different outcomes. For instance, in the example above, we see different outcomes depending on whether the vacation is approved or not.

Workflows Benefit Public Health As A Versatile Visual Tool

Workflows are a great tool public health departments can use to map out employee processes. These processes  or workflows can be complex or simple.

Imagine a workflow for your different client populations and the charting required or data that needs to be completed. It might look something like this:

Sample of a public health workflow for documenting client population

These processes can be dictated by state grants, various program requirements or based on standards of care and it is common to outline processes such as this in a written format such as policy and procedures.

However, representing these types of processes in a visual format can provide an advantage. They offer clear guidance for staff – showing steps that have a beginning, rules based on outcomes, and an end.

Workflows Benefit Public Health by Helping Streamline EHR Documentation

Workflows offer many uses for public health departments, including streamlining electronic health record (EHR) documentation.

Your staff may be well aware of the requirements and processes for your various tasks or client populations. But do they have a comfortable knowledge of where to go in your EHR/EMR to document their work? Workflows allow your agency to combine both the requirements/processes for the task and the EHR documentation instructions. Take a look!

Example Public Health Workflow of Documenting Client Population in an EHR

Above, you can see a sample workflow showing how data for a specific population would be entered in the EHR. The workflow depicts what data needs to be entered as well as where in the software each step should be completed or each piece of data entered.

Workflows Benefit Public Health In Many More Ways

Workflows have been successfully used and implemented across many different industries. They are a proven tool that helps outline processes in a way that is meaningful to a user. The benefits are many.

Workflows are…

  • Easy to follow: Directional graphics or tools within the workflow create an order or flow to the process. Requirements are added to the box to give direction on what is important to capture for specific populations or tasks.
  • A Tool That Helps Affect Process Consistency Among Staff: By writing out the steps you create a process that all staff can follow. Each staff member documents program requirements in the same location with confidence! Laminate the workflow so that staff have at their fingertips the information they need.
  • Effective Reference Tools When Training New Staff: Use the workflows for new staff to help them train on use of the EHR/EMR  along with specific program requirements or tasks. No need to remember all the details as they are spelled out and laminated for later use to help refresh new staff members’ memory.
  • Easy to Maintain: Updates to a task or program? Just update the workflow and redistribute. Highlight the changes so staff see what is new. No need to call a meeting to discuss and train all staff on the changes.
  • Great Tools for Quality Improvement Review: Workflows provides great visual tools that are easily reviewed to determine improvements and/or changes to documentation requirements. They also help identify where those changes need to be made in your EHR/EMR.
  • An Excellent Resource for Auditors: Workflows are great tools to give to your auditors if they will be reviewing or accessing data from your EHR/EMR.  Now auditors can easily navigate your system without much training or oversight.
  • A Method of Ensuring Consistency During Administrative Turnover: As administrators turn over, new administrative staff often come into an agency having to review current processes and software being used. Workflows help new administrators to see how the software is being used and to educate them on what existing procedures are in an easy-to-view format.

In Conclusion

Workflows are great tools to help you bridge long-worded policy and procedure documents with an easy to understand visual representation of what steps are required when completing a process and where in your EHR/EMR the data should be documented.

Contact us today to learn how Nightingale Notes EHR offers public health workers an intuitive software to document their work. Learn about our training and implementation procedures and how you can create workflows for documenting your work in Nightingale Notes.