Many hospitals struggle with the principle of Value when implementing Lean . However, Value is often the principle that provokes the changes in a hospital’s processes that improve the patient experience the most.
A focus on Value has proven to cut patient wait times at hospitals that implement Lean . The emergency department of a 150 bed, for profit hospital found itself incapable of providing timely service to its patients. Poor communication among staff led to long wait times for patients that led to many patients leaving before being seen by a physician. While beginning its journey into Lean, the hospital discovered that the average total time in the department for a patient was five hours, with only thirty-six minutes of the patients time being spent with a nurse or doctor. The rest of the five hours was waiting. The department created a value stream map that revealed the department’s weaknesses in communication and a lack of standardization of roles. Once the weaknesses were revealed, the department was able to remedy its weaknesses by standardizing roles and communication under the supervision of a Lean expert. The improvements in the department cut its patient wait time by 59%, and lowered the total patient time in the department to two hours.
The primary childbirth center of a region in a 150 bed, for profit hospital had frustratingly extensive patient wait times for admission, medication and discharge. A value stream map revealed the ward’s weak processes, specifically its inconsistent notification about patient eligibility for medications, poor communication between environmental teams and nurses, and last minute scheduling of discharge processes. With its weaknesses identified, the ward staff was able to cut its admission wait time by one hour, its medication wait time by one hour, and its discharge wait time by three hours under the supervision of a Lean specialist.
A same-day surgery staff at a 230 bed, for profit hospital struggled to collect and distribute patient information efficiently and correctly. Patient information was often missing or lost by the time the patient was admitted for surgery. A value stream map identified a lack of standardization for collecting, reviewing and distributing patient information to nurses and physicians. A team of same day surgery staff constructed an ideal, future value stream map and built information collecting, reviewing and distributing processes to match it under the supervision of a Lean specialist. The new processes cut the same-day surgery ward’s patient wait time by 57%.
Although Value can be a difficult Lean principle to apply in a health care setting, it is possible under the direction of a Lean specialist. Value is a principle that is directly correlated to a hospital’s patient satisfaction, and patient satisfaction is key to a hospital, because a hospital without patients is just a building.
Have you implemented Value Stream Mapping in a health care facility? What worked and what didn’t work? What were your results? Share your experiences for those who could learn from them, in the spirit of making a difference in healthcare for everyone.