Mark Graban, the author of Lean Hospitals, asserts that, “waste is any problem that pops up during the day that delays care.” And Christopher Kim, MD, MBA, of the Departments of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Michigan asserts, “up to 40% of time spent in hospitals is waste.” The article from which these quotations came is nearly 5 years old but the situations it describes are no less true in 2013 than they were in 2008.
Bad Processes Lead to Waste
We whole heartedly support the hospital LEAN movement and why your hospital should LEAN forward. Bad processes lead to waste. Waste leads to higher costs, lower employee satisfaction, and compromised patient outcomes. No one wants to blindly perpetuate that destructive cycle. Equally important, in today’s environment of increasing demand for services and decreasing amounts of reimbursements, hospitals must address HOW work gets done (the process) and not simply WHAT work gets done (the task) if they are to survive the profit squeeze.
The strength of LEAN initiatives is the critical examination of clinical processes, breaking them down into parts, and eliminating waste through a series of deliberate steps. The weakness of LEAN initiatives is poor sustainability, in large part because workflow technology is not part of the LEAN strategy and people revert to old behaviors that compromise the LEAN initiative.
Technology Offers Repeatable, Measurable, Sustainable Results
Thus, whether you use our clinical workflow technology, OPTIMI$ER, or build your own process solution, we strongly advise you make workflow technology part of your LEAN strategy. Keep in mind, defining a technology solution should follow the hard work of understanding how people currently do their work, mapping the current state process, and then determining the desired future state process. There is no value in automating a bad process! Process case studies across multiple clinical settings demonstrate how technology can help orchestrate clinical workflow in a repeatable, measurable, and sustainable way leading to:
- a reduction of errors, omissions, duplications and delays
- an increase in financial performance, employee productivity and satisfaction, and patient safety and satisfaction
- a return on investment that can be achieved in 3-6 months