Hospitals and healthcare vertical (just as any other industry) has accomplished quite a few milestones - be it Personalized medicine, Advances in Emergency and OPD (out-patient) treatment techniques etc.
Despite the laurels, some of the growing concerns highlighted indicate that there is much scope for improvement in hospital administration, hospital pharmacy, inventory, logistics and overall hospital management processes globally, including Canada and US.
Continuous Improvement in healthcare industry could be achieved using different business efficiency methodologies. Some of the salient guiding parameters include- hospital size (average number of patients catered, task force-number of employees, consulting doctors etc.), revenue turnover, location etc. There is no one-size-fit-all methodology, rather the contrary i.e. Continuous Improvement methodology have to be essentially customized to each hospital.
Having said that, Kaizen methodology is an all-time applicable technique of continuous improvement for hospital / healthcare industry in general. It is also one of the best and faster methods to bring about the desired results. It is typical for Kaizen to work on smaller problems of the hospital that end up having a positive effect on larger problems.
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However, Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple business process improvement. The Kaizen methodology follows W.E Deming’s PDCA (plan-do-check-act), which is a cycle of continuous improvement. Other techniques used in conjunction with PDCA include 5 Whys, which is a form of root cause analysis in which the user asks "why" a failure occurred five successive times, basing each subsequent question on the answer to the previous.
As is said, every big achievement begins with a small step...
Step 1: The Kaizen process could be typically implemented by designing the Kaizen Strategy.
Step 2: Create the Kaizen team. This team should’ve a leader who will supervise, evaluate, monitor & coordinate the entire Kaizen process. And, volunteers who would creatively and enthusiastically implement the Kaizen strategy and embed it successfully in daily working of the hospital.
Step 3: Create work-flow structure and Metrics to monitor Kaizen implementation and to ensure sustainability of the Kaizen philosophy in the hospital. Some of the metrics criteria could be costs reduction in hospital administration, satisfaction feedback from patients & care givers, improvement in number of OPD cases handled etc.
A report at the end of Kaizen implementation citing “before” and “after” has been known to be a great motivator for hospital employees and management alike.
What are you doing to improve your continuous improvement work?
About the author:
Shruti Bhat PhD MBA Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt is Pharmaceutical R&D and Continuous Improvement Director, Innoworks Canada
Shruti leads path-breaking product development programs such as Complex Generics, Nanotechnology and Targeted delivery systems for pharmaceuticals and natural products. Her mantra is to "Shorten development timelines, build quality-by-design, lean processes and bring products fast- to- market". Shruti integrates her proficiency in Design Thinking, Lean, Kaizen and other Continuous Improvement methodologies to improve R&D processes, productivity and profitability.
Shruti is Product Development & Continuous Improvement Advisor to several start ups, mid-size and growing firms in Canada, USA, India, Africa and other Emerging markets. Shruti has authored six books and is an invited speaker at several conferences and workshops.
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