SHERIDAN — The leadership team at Sheridan Memorial Hospital approved an updated operational plan for the organization recently, focusing on continuous improvement and value to the hospital’s patients.
The SMH board of trustees approved funding to work with Simpler Consulting for three years to implement the “lean management” system. The board approved funding for the first year — $375,000 — at its meeting last week.
The idea of lean management focuses on adding value for customers while minimizing waste. In the health care industry, waste can be more than supplies. Simpler Consulting defines several common types of waste in health care — overproduction, defects, movement or transportation, inventory, process waste, waiting time, unnecessary motion and unused human potential. These are all areas SMH staff hope to address with the updated operational plan.
Hospital CEO Mike McCafferty said the lean management system appealed to the SMH leadership team because other health care organizations have utilized the concept to sustain improvements and create consistency in how improvements are approached by the staff at the hospital.
The CEO said he has been proud of the hospital’s success in building cultures of teamwork, safety and kindness. But, he added, there are ups and downs in other areas of operations that he feels having a standardized model across the organization would benefit. He cited patient care, satisfaction and quality as areas that could improve through the lean management system.
The hospital leadership team observed the system working in other organizations, including Virginia Mason and ThedaCare, visiting with employees at those entities to discuss the lean management system and whether and how it has worked for them.
The operational plan will examine value streams of the hospital — for example, the emergency department or the intensive care unit — and put patient care at the center of everything. Then, the team at the hospital evaluates that value stream and determines how to deliver the best services to the patient.
The plan also includes processes called rapid improvement events, during which staff tackle one particular problem in a concentrated amount of time. For example, if wait time for admissions is too long, a group of employees could take a few days or a week to study the issue, come up with a solution and implement it.
McCafferty said processes like that can provide breakthrough results for hospitals utilizing the lean management concept.
The new operational plan began this month and the hospital evaluates and updates its operational plan every two years as part of its strategic planning process.