Healthcare in the United States is in peril due to constantly changing regulations and funding. Providers are overworked and anticipating reduced incomes in their future. The typical healthcare environment resembles a frantic race, with everyone on a mission to do something. Often that mission is finding missing information, other times it is finding something physical. These activities are waste in motion and a great cause of frustration for the healthcare workers involved. And of course, all of this activity is occurring while the patient/customer waits.
One significant challenge in applying Lean to healthcare is finding the time to work on the process problems that are eating up precious resources. QSG’s consultants recognize this challenge and are experienced at helping organizations maximize the impact of time designated to process improvement activities.
In one healthcare practice of four providers, five nurses (some part-time), and five office workers (some part-time), a five person team met in the waiting room once a week for 1½ hours before the office opened. QSG’s consultant worked with the team to Value Stream Process Map from the initial patient call for an appointment, through the office visit, and finally to billing insurance. After looking at the map he helped create, the lead doctor on the team remarked, “I did not know half of this went on. No wonder we are so messed up!”
The team began using Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) on their tasks to help attack waste. Many processes took several PDSA cycles for the final improvement to be put in place, but the team committed to using PDSA on their tasks. The results included improved flow through the office, a more relaxed pace of work, and one doctor was able to reduce hours with hurting his income. Within six weeks of the kickoff of the team attacking waste, patients were commenting on the positive changes that were taking place at the practice.
QSG’s healthcare industry experience ranges from small doctor’s offices to multi-specialty physician group practices and hospitals. Regardless of size and type of practice, our consultants can help your healthcare organization to implement meaningful Lean and process improvement initiatives.