Ask any healthcare worker, ask any law enforcement officer, and they will tell you what a “Case” is.
Case was, and for many, still is, a “file folder”. Everything has to be in one place in order to make informed decisions. You need to know where the folder is and unless you duplicate and maintain multiple copies of the folder, only one person can look at the content of a Case at one time.
eCases are the electronic version of file folders – they can include the same range of objects from plain text to doc, pdf, spreadsheet files, to images, even video/audio recordings.
The similarity between traditional Cases and eCases ends there.
For starters, eCases are not limited to healthcare and law enforcement. They can be used across a wide range of initiatives (i.e. manufacturing, retail, research and development) as a result of bundling of BPM, CPM, CRM and ECM within eCases.
The differences between Cases and eCases are dramatic but, as usual with new technology, it can take several years for people to understand and appreciate the benefits.
The first difference is that eCases are everywhere. With minimal discipline, an eCase can be up to date as of today/now.
Any number of Case Workers/Case Managers can simultaneously access a given eCase and receive decision support based on current information. eCase content is better protected given the appropriate infrastructure because access to eCase content can be granted by the eCase Manager on a strict need-to-know basis.
Data filtering at eCases allows a user to zoom in on the information needed to make a particular decision, often reducing 100 pages of clutter to a few situation/context specific paragraphs. It’s easier at an eCase to get a second opinion on proposed alternative courses of action using in-Case collaboration facilities and easier to rollout and test tentative solutions to problems.
Working apps at eCases or easily accessible from eCases allow Case Managers to analyze data and generate forward projections of data with the obvious potential for users to detect evolving problems before they actually materialize and take evasive action to prevent problems from evolving.
eCases are eminently portable. Armed with a tablet, a worker can record data relating to a Case intervention at a point of service or production place of work and indicate completion of an intervention simply by taking a snapshot of a barcode.
The changed Case status, along with any data collected, immediately becomes available via interoperability to users who log into eCases and to others who never log in at Cases (i.e. widening access, again on a need-to-know basis, to all stakeholders including customers/suppliers/local and remote 3rd party individuals and systems).
Stakeholders know “when” interventions have been completed. They know “who” performed the intervention, “where”, and “what” the intervention consisted of.
Stakeholders can also know “why” interventions are requested of them, because eCase run-time environments, when backgrounded by a methodology called BPM (Business Process Management), auto-load next-in-line steps to the attention of the appropriate stakeholder(s) the moment a predecessor step is reported as complete. A full eCase history of interventions is available of all structured/unstructured work for browsing.
Background BPM process templates clearly show “best practices” step sequencing. R.A.L.B. (Resource Allocation, Leveling and Balancing), another methodology typically inherent to eCases, ensures that steps are routed to the right stakeholders, at the right places, at the right times.
Bottom line, when you are able to orchestrate when, who, where, what, and why, it’s not surprising that an organization’s ability to do the right things, the right way, at the right time and right place improves.
Remember “orchestration”, because orchestration plus governance plus interoperability are the essence of eCases once you look under the hood.
eCase not-so-obvious benefits
One of the least understood yet most beneficial features of eCase environments is the ability to manage work.
Work management is all about orchestration (i.e. guidelines), governance (i.e. guardrails) and interoperability (i.e. collaboration).
Whereas organizations have automated most straight-through workflow processes, work, as we know it today, has changed dramatically over the past few decades to where most work is a mix of unstructured and structured work. The mix can be 5/95% or 95/5%, it does not matter.
It’s relatively easy to orchestrate structured work. Not so easy to orchestrate unstructured work.
Accordingly, the traditional focus on managing tasks, in the case of unstructured work, shifts to the achieving smooth transfer of inputs/outputs (i.e. a focus on gaps between tasks).
With unstructured work, what becomes important is to know when one task is complete so that another can start. eCase environments that have their foundation in ACM (Adaptive Case Management) do an excellent job managing task transitions.
It’s not all smooth sailing – with unstructured work there is little orchestration so it’s easy to find users wandering down inappropriate garden pathways. Governance (i.e. guardrails) is needed to “rein in” unwanted excursions away from what are considered “best practices”.
Fortunately, ACM comes to the rescue here in that it is easy to “park” what are called Figure of Merit matrices (FOMM) at eCases.
FOMM is nothing more than a fancy name for a spreadsheet, where you want to be able to itemize the various objectives of an individual eCase and track progress toward attainment of these. The usual situation is multiple objectives, some of which are more important than others. FOMM gives you the ability to “weight” individual objectives and calculate a Case level meta-objective.
Let’s recap here.
All of this gives organizations the wherewithal to increase productivity, increase throughput, decrease errors, improve compliance with internal and external rules and regulations, and improve outcomes.
Given BPM, R.A.L.B., FOMM, augmented by CPM, CRM, ECM, all accessible from within an environment we call eCase, it’s important to state that no eCase is an island.
eCase information needs to be enriched by data from outside sources, outside sources need data from eCase, so the final component for success with workflow management is interoperability.
We have at eCases,
a) Orchestration (i.e. guidance from BPM, from R.A.L.B.)
b) Governance (i.e. guardrails from local and global rule sets at eCases)
c) Interoperability (i.e. outreach/inreach)
Is eCase the final frontier for the management of work?
eCase provides a structure for managing objectives relating to operational initiatives, all of which derive from and need, at all times, to be supportive of strategic objectives.
The final frontier is Cases of Cases and that is best left to a separate blog post.
eCases, the final frontier for workflow management?
eCases II Look before you leap!
eCases III the UI makes or breaks it
eCases IV – Interoperability