Four Key Components of Successful Process Improvement Programs-Part 2

Vinarsky, John 2012

by John Vinarsky, Vice President, Executive Solutions, Intalere

In last week’s post, we looked at the first two components of successful process improvement programs. This week we’ll explore getting started and sustainability and growth.

 Getting started

In the early parts of any process improvement program, it is important to not be overly aggressive, but to initially concentrate on what is called in the Lean process “point improvements.” Root out basic problems, make improvements and build a foundation. Try to choose initial projects that are:

–-  Core to the overall facility strategy
–  Ripe for improvement in cost or process
–-  Important because of customer demand

Think about instituting small, quick-to-implement improvements made by staff in a local work unit. They often focus on improving safety, reducing defects, organizing materials or information and saving time and money. The beauty of this thinking is that it immediately delivers small improvements while embedding Lean thinking into staff.

Sustainability and Growth

In time, the transition in process improvement will move to the next step which begins to link processes across departments and develops more standard operations and standard work for leaders. These standard pieces will generally be the foundation of continuous improvement and should be used in some way in your process so that any gains through process improvement are not lost over time.

As your organization “gets better at getting better,” more shared priorities will lead to further alignment of systems measuring performance, alignment of accountability across diverse stakeholders and partnerships that drive a higher level of care.

In conclusion, it is important to emphasize an aligned, accountable, process-driven improvement program is not necessarily about the size of the healthcare organization or complex IT systems needed to harness the data on which some projects can depend. It’s about listening to the customer and the employees, uncovering, implementing and tracking opportunities and creating stakeholder value while creating knowledge – all rooted in metric-based accountability.

To learn more, download the new Intalere white paper, Transforming Your Healthcare Organization Through Process Improvement.

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