Steps Toward Operational Excellence


Operational Excellence is a workplace philosophy that embraces problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership to create sustainable improvement and growth. The process involves focusing on the customers' needs, keeping the employees positive and empowered, and continually improving the current activities in the workplace.

Why is Operational Excellence essential within healthcare? It not only enables each employee, regardless of function, to see and understand various patient pathways within the healthcare setting; it also empowers employees to resolve problems when they arise. There are many tools and techniques that can be used to help organizations along their journey to Operational Excellence.  The Value Stream Map is one of the more leveraged tools as it helps the team see the flow, identify waste, and analyze data relevant to the organization. With that visual in place, teams can explore different areas using detailed Process Maps to show sequential steps by function or Spaghetti Diagrams to visualize the movement of patients, staff, or materials. Data collection also plays a key role in this process and when combined with the use of methods like 5 Whys and Cause and Effect Diagrams (also known as Fishbone or Ishikawa diagrams), teams can begin to understand the root cause of problems or identify waste.

Healthcare leaders are instrumental in ensuring resources are available to improve quality, access, satisfaction, and cost. With strategically focused improvement events, organizations can transform how care is delivered by working toward providing lower cost, better quality, and easy access for patients.

As with any change, improvement teams truly benefit when patients, caregivers, and those who perform the work feel empowered and are involved in the engagement. Improvement events can utilize A3 ThinkingPDCA/PDSAKaizen, or Lean/Six Sigma methodology. While ultimately, patient satisfaction improves, so does employee satisfaction through efficiency and productivity gains.

To ensure that changes are sustained, project teams can create control plans along with standard work. The control plan and standard work provides clear information for teams to follow. In addition, teams should document lessons learned and celebrate their efforts to improve patient care.

Original post: Renaye James Healthcare Advisors