Step 3 – Plan, Do, Check, and Act
LEAN shares a great concept with Agile software engineering: a series of smaller, easier to plan and implement projects is more effective than a single large, complicated and deeply planned project. LEAN refers to these small iterative improvement projects as “kaizen events”; Agile calls them sprints, cycles or iterations.
Rather than feeling pressured to choose between a large single project or a series of smaller sprints consider the following. Use your business case to create your overall implementation strategy. This is your compass that will keep you on course. Your implementation strategy defines your objectives and describes your strategy for realizing them. Think of your implementation strategy as your master plan with a lot of details “to be determined”.
Now, combining your overall implementation strategy with your learnings from your current and future state development you are in a great position to try your iteration (kaisen event, or small change project). Does this mean you need your technical solution for your future state? No. Although your future state will require new technology, system changes, and installation of new hardware, you do not need it to perform your first tests. To test if your future state/process even makes sense have people stand in for technology and use volunteers for patients.
After manually running through your future state does it make sense? Did you have to make any changes? If you like what you’ve discovered then it is time to move to a true implementation of your new, streamlined process.
Each technical implementation will vary depending on a variety of factors: 1) your existing systems and their openness, 2) the availability of your internal IT departments, and 3) flexibility of the new vendors you are bringing into the process. Your ideal vendors are ones that understand the agile nature of your process and will be able to partner with you in your series of iterative improvements (“kaizen events”).
Through out this process look for performance indicators you can measure. Initially these measurements may be performed manually by members of your team. Over time your technology solution will be capturing these measurements for you. What types of measurements can you identify? Here are a few ideas:
• Time spent waiting for a registrar
• Time spent with a registrar for new registrations
• Time spent with a registrar for repeat visits
• Number of patients on the wrong day
• Number of patients early or late for appointments
• Number of staff interruptions by patients needing directions • Staff and patient satisfaction
• Insurance denials due to data quality
• Payment collection
Step 2 – Develop an Ideal Future State/Process
With a good handle on your existing process to accept patients as well as surrounding factors like satisfaction, you have a great basis to design a new process. Again, this is where LEAN does an excellent job in guiding you through this activity. Your ideal state/ process will see the action items of value for the patient being completed as efficiently as possible.
From a patient’s perspective their ideal flow is they enter your facility, go straight to the clinician, be treated immediately and then leave. Since that will never happen, what are the minimum steps that must occur for the patient to receive their service? How can you accomplish this minimum number of steps with the least amount of effort?
When developing this future state try to adopt an impartial viewpoint. While for the past 25 years your registrars have always performed activity, is it truly necessary for a person to perform some of these actions? Where there is repetition and clearly defined rules there is the opportunity to have technology perform the job.
Revisit your desired outcomes from your business case. Here are some additional outcomes you might consider:
1. Improving the patient experience: By standardizing the patient flow, the level of confusion for patients has significantly decreased as they are pre-registered online prior to their visit and there is now one single point of contact in the main lobby for all scheduled visit check-ins.
2. Managing patient expectations and staff interaction: Patient expectations for service levels are met as they are given more control over their experience. Therefore, many of the routine activities such as visit check-ins and selective demographic field updates have been automated. The staff now has reason to enjoy their work environment with a new outlook on their position.
3. Enhanced staff productivity: As a result of enhanced staff productivity and better streamlining of the patient flow in areas such as outpatient services and the ER, the hospital has improved the quality of registration data and eliminated/redistributed FTEs – making it possible to achieve significant cost savings in the first year.
4. Elimination of many labor-intensive manual steps in the patient-admitting process. Direct entry by the patient helps reduce transcription errors and improves overall data accuracy. The ability to give immediate status on patient identification, communication, outstanding clinic time, as well as the future ability to collect funds via credit card swipe, gives these devices an easily definable financial return on investment. Many patients prefer the experience of check-in via kiosk to traditional nurse check-in, citing lack of queues and increased privacy and ease. The limited requirement for interaction with existing systems, coupled with the fact that kiosks do not change clinical workflow, makes them quick and nonintrusive to implement.
Step 1 – Understand Your Current State
How do you eat an elephant? Easy…one bite at a time!
If you’re responsible for 100 clinical areas and process 50,000 patients a month (or ale at it seems that way) you know there’s a problem but you’re not sure where. First, pick an area that you know has issues and if it gets fixed it will be noticed. High volume repeat visits are a good starting place to look.
Next assemble an ad-hoc team to walk through the process and understand what are the steps new and returning patients follow. Methodologies like LEAN are excellent in understanding how you do business today. Consider seeking out the help of someone who knows LEAN or another process engineering methodology.
Additional factors to consider in your current state
- Patient volumes per staff member
- Non-clinical to clinical real- estate ratio
- Patient flow from being parked to first clinical encounter
- Patient communication prior to arriving
- Wayfinding and signage
- Patient Satisfaction rates
- Frontline staff satisfaction
Muda: The Seven Wastes in LEAN
- Delay: Delay on the part of patients waiting for service
- Duplication: Duplication. Having to re-enter data, repeat details on forms, answer queries from several sources within the same organization, etc.
- Unnecessary Movement: Queuing several times, lack of “one-stop shopping”
- Unclear Communication: Seeking clarification, wasting time finding a location that may result in additional waste to assist.
- Lost Inventory: Inventory…The patient forgets or is unable to arrive for their scheduled appointment, perishable items such as isotopes are lost.
- Opportunity Lost: An opportunity lost to satisfy patients such as a failure to establish rapport, ignoring patients, perceived unfriendliness and rudeness.
- Errors: Errors in the service transaction such as data entry
On Tuesday, August 12th 2014 The Ottawa Hospital went “live” and joined the growing list of customers who are installing Check-In and/or Wayfinding kiosks provided by the Access Management software company, PatientWay. There are many benefits seen by patients, staff and hospital administration when implementing both check-in and wayfinding kiosks…lets take a closer look at Wayfinding kiosks specifically.
It’s a fact, patients and visitors can easily get lost and frustrated in a big campus or unfamiliar hospital environment.
- Why can’t we easily show visitors how to navigate multiple buildings?
- Why do hospital marketing departments spend too much of their precious budget on replacing ever changing signage?
- Why are hospital staff members hanging hand written notes over outdated signs which originally cost thousands of dollars to produce and install?
- Why do we assume all patients and visitors are comfortable navigating in English?
Key Features of Wayfinding and Information kiosks:
- Find your destination: Patient Rooms, Offices, Conference Rooms, Departments, Security, Pharmacy, Billing and more…
- Find a person: Doctors, Administrators, Executive Assistants, Pharmacists, and more…
- Locate Dining and other services
- Multi-step printing
- Feedback service
- Multiple language capability
- ADA Accessibility/compliant
- Emergency messaging
- Completely customizable to your hospital’s needs and requirements
- And much, much more…
Why are more customers choosing PatientWay Wayfinding & Information kiosks?
The PatientWay Wayfinding module, part of the PatientWay Suite, is a patient-friendly system to obtain directions to their clinic. Hospitals constantly change so we’ve designed Wayfinding so that it is easy to update the maps, routes and destinations. PatientWay Wayfinding also provides staff and patient directories as well as helpful resources around the hospital. PatientWay’s Wayfinding Kiosks provide your patients and visitors a friendly and modern self-service resource for finding clinics, services, and staff at your hospital. Kiosks make everybody feel welcome at your hospital by working natively in up to 65 languages.