Blogs by Suzi Collins

I’m very pleased to have been asked to  be the keynote speaker at the MUSE Executive Institute this week in Litchfield Park, Arizona. There are many excellent talks over two days, so if you are in the vicinity I encourage you to attend. My session is entitled “Transforming Your Hospital – Discover Process Optimization” and will focus on what hospitals can learn from the experience of the manufacturing industry to help them overcome complex challenges ranging from effectively managing expensive IT projects to controlling supply spend.

Stanley Black & Decker has long been known for its operational excellence, achieved through a process we call Transformational Lean™. It's more than manufacturing or operational efficiency; it's an mindset that continually seeks for innovation in how all work gets done and how value is delivered to the customer.

We’re all familiar with TV shows that document people who collect and keep things that they don’t use, and may never need. What if a TV crew turned up to film the vast range of inventory kept at the typical hospital? From my experience, they would have another hit show on their hands! Healthcare facilities are often overwhelmed with equipment and supplies because they do not have the processes in place to review and monitor equipment. Items are kept around “just in case” they might be needed sometime.

Turnover time in an operating room is a critical process, and constantly a target for process improvement. The question to be asked for any such initiative, however, is what is ideal and how do we measure it? The definition of room turnover is the time between wheels out and wheels in to the operating room. This timing is critical in order to ensure that the operating room is utilized to maximum capacity and that the schedule is being managed efficiently. Recently we began a project to reduce turnover time, which stood at 49 minutes, at a client hospital.

I recently came across a blog posting about the challenge of sustaining lean initiatives in hospitals. There are many comments posted as to why these initiatives are not successful, but in my experience it boils down to the training style, and the need to involve many different levels of employees. It can’t just be a management decision, and can easily fail at the grassroots (front line workers) level without the active involvement of middle level management.

In a recent project that I consulted on in a surgery department, we used the following lean tools to accomplish some significant changes.  The first two weeks of this project were observation and spending time with the people who do the work.  We went right to the gemba, which in lean methodology means the actual location of work, and as a result the improvements in this particular department were outstanding!

The value of efficient storage is something that hospitals don’t always consider.  Often times the budget available for initial acquisition drives the storage decision, and departments are left with sub-standard storage.