Sunday, 21 April 2013 22:08

Planning for Health Care's Uncertain Future

Written by  David Callen
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The Affordable Care Act has created angst among health care workers and administrators, not because big changes are coming, but because the impacts of those changes and their accompanying rules are not yet clear. For administrators, this level of uncertainty makes planning seem nearly impossible. Yet, healthcare organizations such as Mayo Clinic and Thedacare are currently developing robust plans for tomorrow, streamlining existing workflows, and delivering better outcomes in care—all while cutting costs, increasing cash flow, and growing the bottom line.  How? Lean Six Sigma.

A Transformational Approach

Lean Six Sigma improves hospital operations with data-supported decision making. The goal is to drive continuous improvement throughout the organization, and in a way that aligns with the hospital’s strategic plan.

In health care, Lean Six Sigma focuses on both the process (workflow) and the service itself.  When implemented properly, these practices train health care teams to react and adjust to changes efficiently, and even proactively create solutions to future problems. Typically, Lean Six Sigma projects yield between three and ten times the health care provider’s investment, as well as a 50% improvement in quality of care.

Financial Gains from Lean Six Sigma Result from:

n  Eliminating rework, materials, and inventory

n  Avoiding or reworking problematic processes

n  Enhancing productivity and patient care quality

n  Improving patient flow and cash flow

Lean Six Sigma methodologies make delivering and planning for high-quality care possible, even in the face of great change. Further, these practices prepare hospitals and staff for the coming changes while incorporating existing requirements from Medicare/Medicaid, ACO, avoidable adverse events, and much more.

To Read a Success Story, press the Read More button below: 

Emergency Department Revenue Cycle Improvement: A Success Story

Hospital administrators noticed defects in patient medical and registration entries, which led to excessive rework from auxiliary, medical records, and billing department employees.

A group of the hospital’s medical, financial, and stakeholder decision makers worked with Lean Six Sigma experts to set a goal of reducing defects and time spent by 50%. They divided into two teams to separately address 1) registration-related account processing issues and 2) medical information-related account processing issues.

Each team collected data from patient registration and medical information workflows for 5 days.  Auxiliary departments (radiology, clinical lab, pharmacy, and respiratory therapy) also tracked information they received from the ER. The data revealed that for every 100 minutes spent processing patient accounts, 55 were for rework. Also, for every 100 patient accounts processed, 75 had defective information, which required rework.

Mapping the Value Stream

Working with Lean Six Sigma experts, the teams developed a Value Stream Map to detail the steps involved in registering a patient, from arriving in the ER to mailing the final bill for services. The Value Stream Map served as a point of reference, helping the teams identify waste, long wait times, and defects in their workflow. They learned the causes of waste were 1) insufficient software training and 2) no established “standard operating procedure” for entering patient data into the software program.

A Clear Solution

The hospital team worked with Lean Six Sigma Experts, as well as the hospital’s technology staff, to create an action plan for developing a software training curriculum and standard operating procedures for employees to follow during registration, billing, and other patient data entries.

Measurable Results

Minutes of rework were reduced by 75% and the number of defects was reduced more than threefold.   As a direct result of these Lean Six Sigma improvements, the hospital saved more than $175,000 in soft dollars or productivity. Further, updates to medical records, which used to take three days, now took only one. This greatly improved quality of care for patients who required follow-up treatment after the ER. This project also led to the formation of a software information team of nurses to address changing medical codes and software applications on a regular basis.

Doing More with Less

Hospitals and clinical health care settings can reap big rewards from a wide variety of projects. Lean Six Sigma is especially helpful for those ongoing, hard-to-diagnose problems that whittle away at hospital revenue, patient care performance, and caregiver morale.

Lean Six Sigma Projects in Healthcare  

Increase admissions

Enhance workflow efficiency

Reduce poor use of materials

Minimize deficiencies

Improve planning and scheduling of human resources

Make better use of facilities and equipment

About WillowTree Advisors, LLC

We are a woman-owned, small business specializing organizational transformations. Headquartered in Denver with services offered across the country, our team comprises over 40 professional advisors and technology experts with significant experience in change management, Lean and Six Sigma improvement, leadership development, and team building. We have worked with state, local, and federal agencies, and private firms, and in industries such as health care, high tech, manufacturing, aviation and transportation. We incorporate best practices from the health care sector and beyond, for a solid, cross-industry solution.

Our team members hold numerous certifications—Six Sigma, Lean, PMP ITIL, Certified Purchasing Manager, and others—and work with business and quality methodologies including MBO and TQM management strategies. Many of us are university instructors in quality management, Six Sigma, Lean business transformation, and purchasing/supply chain management. We also volunteer for Rocky Mountain Performance Excellence (RMPEx) and as National Baldrige Award examiners.

To Download the content  from Scribd, please click the following link:  Planning for Health Care's Uncertain Future by WillowTree Advisors


Last modified on Sunday, 09 November 2014 18:16

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