A multipronged approach that puts patients and healthcare – at the heart of performance transformation efforts can help hospitals and health systems deliver more financially sustainable, patient-oriented, and physician-friendly care.
Healthcare Operational Excellence uses a variety of process improvement and change management concepts and approaches to increase operational efficiency and improving care quality.Because waits and delays are so common in health care, patients and providers assume that waiting is unassumingly part of the care process. But studies and work on assessing the reasons for delays suggests otherwise. With enhanced patient flow, timely and efficient flow of patients through important care settings can be offered.
There have been cases in India where teams have been working on typical and rampant issue of long queues and waiting times at the Outdoor Patient Departments (OPD). With concepts like Swim lane Process Mapping (another variation of Value Stream Mapping) the team was able to achieve 20 to 30% reduction in average time spent at the OPD by improving the patient turn around times. There should be strong sense of belief that healthcare exists for patient care and serving them quickly and efficiently should be the focus.
Concepts like functional layouts vis-a-vis process driven layouts are all the more critical in healthcare facility or hospital design. At several locations it is observed due to the functional layouts of the hospital which is not patient oriented, patients have to traverse substantial distance. In one instance, patient with fractured leg had to walk almost 1500 meters which is ‘one and half kilometers’ inside the hospital to get admitted and treated. Such scenarios can be improved by designing the layout considering the patient and process flow.
Similarly, specific areas of focus to improve patient flow can include reducing waits for patient admission through emergency departments, achieving timely and efficient transfer of patients from the intensive care unit and the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) to medical/ surgical units.
Hospital areas must be designed to achieve optimal flow of patients, the emergency department, intensive care unit, and operating rooms and their related pre- and post-care areas tend to be major bottlenecks because they are non-interchangeable resources. And as per classical Theory of Constraint by Goldratt, one must focus on improving the bottlenecks. Reducing delays and unclogging bottlenecks depends on assessing and improving flow between and among these departments, and throughout the entire system, rather than in isolated departments.
Improving the efficiency of delivering service and treatment is the single way forward. We all know that only the healthcare sector is directly connected to lives of people and it must be well organized.
Written by: Faber Vishal Kulkarni
Faber Vishal Kulkarni is one of the founding members and Director of Faber Infinite Consulting, with operations in Asia Pacific, Africa & Middle East. He holds a masters degree in Operations Management with his 1st degree being in Production Engineering.
This article was originally published on Economic Times – ETHealthworld.com as part of Operational Excellence in Healthcare Industry series. Original link available here.