Case Management versus Workflow Systems in Healthcare
As healthcare and care management is a people-centric endeavor, the processes and workflows involved are ripe for efficiency gains. One historic business approach to streamlining processes is using workflow or business process management systems and techniques. A process is defined as a set of steps, or tasks, that are undertaken to get something done. In business, processes are typically divided into core and support processes, with core processes being the primary value creation processes while support processes are there to allow the primary processes to be complete. A similar division of healthcare processes exists involving organizational and medical treatment. Within these classifications are several subcategories of processes that tend to split along complexity and repeatability lines. Business process management has a similar division of processes, called production processes and knowledge-intensive processes. Over time, two different approaches to handling these processes have evolved: workflow management systems and adaptive or dynamic case management. Given how the split in business processes parallels the separation in health care processes, we argue that workflow and case management techniques and tools can efficiently solve similar problems in the health care domain. This paper provides a comparative analysis of the classical workflow-systems versus case-management techniques. To illustrate their specific advantages in a practical way, we demonstrate how they can or have been applied to sample processes, such as radiology, telehealth management, and care coordination.