Process Improvement in healthcare is imperative in today’s rapidly changing environment
Process improvement or change management in healthcare assures that the critical systems in your organization are operating at their optimum. The goals of healthcare process improvement are to enhance the effectiveness of your systems across departments while maximizing profits and ultimately improving the quality of the patient’s experience and care.
Clinical process improvement does not concentrate simply on patient care, but rather examines the entire process from scheduling through to discharge. What are the systems in play? Where are the handoffs? Where is there duplication of efforts or waste of resources? Finding the few critical processes on which to concentrate change management efforts can generate a 20 to 50% improvement in those processes, and tremendously impact your patient and employee satisfaction as well as your bottom line.
How is change management in healthcare accomplished?
At PGS, we use Process Advantage™, our change management toolbox. Process Advantage™ includes flowcharting the systems chosen for the improvement effort, identifying rubs or problems in the system, then beginning a redesign process that eliminates the rubs and dramatically improves the performance of the system.
14 keys that impact your process improvement initiative
There are a number of critical factors or keys that impact the final result and ultimately the value of a change initiative. If each of these factors is incorporated into the change management effort, the end result is a minimum 20-50% improvement in the targeted processes. To learn about the 14 critical keys, download this article on change. You can also learn about each factor in our PGS Growthlines newsletter series, “Dealing with Change” here.
What happens when process improvement is not done well
When process improvement is not done well, i.e., one or more of these 14 elements is ignored, the result is underperformance of the improved system, a lack of innovation, and/or a continued dissatisfaction of customers, both internal and external. Below is a case study in which an organization, a community health center, did not maximize its change management process because an important component of process improvement was ignored.
While implementing an electronic medical records system, the CHC failed to document the current medical records process, and therefore failed to address existing problems in the process and find innovative solutions as part of the implementation of the new technology. As a first step, instead, the CHC selected and engaged a vendor to implement their new EHR system. This is an easy mistake with this type of improvement because they felt they were already engaged in implementing an “innovative” change — electronic health records. Therefore, looking at the old system was unnecessary.
However, a flowchart showing the current system handoffs of medical record information, the different uses of information, where and when information is gathered, input and used would have been extremely valuable. This current process data would assure that the EHR implementation would address problems in the current flow of information and incorporate greater innovation on how and when the information is gathered and used than simply putting in place new technology.
Because it had not documented the existing system, the CHC lost time, and increased the expenses for the project. They failed to look for innovative solutions to not only implement EHR, but also to increase productivity, improve service to patients and increase satisfaction of both patients and staff. In effect, there existed the danger of trying to automate a process that currently wasn’t working well.
If the existing system had been documented by flowchart, and if providers and other staff had been engaged in a process to codify its problems and seek innovative solutions, the EHR investment would have realized a much greater return on investment.
Interested in learning how you bring Process Advantage™ to your healthcare organization?
You can learn more about Process Advantage™ here. Or for specific information on implementing PGS' Process Advantage™ for your organization, call (877) 276-4414 and ask for a free consultation.
Professional Growth Systems was hired by Dena’ina Health Clinic in Kenai, Alaska to kickstart their change management process geared toward integrating EHR implementation with improving continuity of care for their patients. Read what they have to say about their project as written for The Indian Health Services Primary Care Provider publication in October of 2010.
“Implementing EHR does force process change …(but) these should be done intentionally, not haphazardly…Everyone agreed that the work we did with PGS in the discovery, design and implementation sessions was essential in getting us moving in the right direction, with everyone on the same page…”
— Dr. Tim Scheffel