Jonena Relth, TBD Consulting
Change is Difficult - More for Some than Others
Lately, I've been participating in Lean healthcare discussions on LinkedIn. It's interesting to see how the electricity in the convo causes the arm hair to stand up on the "uninitiated" who still believe that Lean methodologies was/is intended only for manufacturing and it simply doesn't fit with their concepts of healthcare delivery.
This, in my opinion, is a classic example that shines a light on the fact that change is more difficult for some folks to swallow than it is for others. Many healthcare professionals just don't want the culture to change from a top-down, autocratic, name and blame, do-as-you're-told environment to Lean healthcare -- a culture that has as its foundations:
- Customer Focus (Patient/Customer Needs met)
- Respect for People
- Gemba Walks and
- Standardized Work
Medical Tourism is a Reality folks!
Gone are the days when American medicine was ranked head and shoulders above ALL other healthcare systems around the world. Our healthcare delivery is no longer considered to be the:
- ONE AND ONLY
- BEST ANYWHERE
- ONLY HOSPITALS RICH PEOPLE FLOCK TO FOR CARE
This is a hard nut to swallow, but we need to start chewing and get to swallowing if we're going to make the US Healthcare System best again. Our people deserve it. For heaven's sake, we live in America, the land of opportunity!
One only needs to watch the up-tick on medical tourism to see that there is a plethora of qualified healthcare providers beyond our borders. US medical schools are training docs, who after perfecting their skills, move back to their homelands to provide medical care at a fraction of the cost of the US. Many of the countries such as Thailand have some of the most sophisticated hospital systems in the world with highly trained physicians and medical staff who are happy to treat whomever they can.
Use of Technology is Way Behind Other Industries
It's also no secret that by staying in a world of paper charts until recently, healthcare workers are not as adept at computer skills as compared to people with similar responsibilities and pay in non-healthcare.
Honestly, it's been decades since we had to train someone how to use a compuer mouse -- except in healthcare.
I guess if you shoe horses or give swimming lessons for a living, you might not know how to use a computer. But wait, you'd still want to make appointments and save your customers' contact data! Yep, you'd want to be proficient in Gmail, Outlook or other email/calendar program -- and you'd definitely need to navigate the page with a mouse!
So Where Does Lean Healthcare Fit into the Equation?
EMRs and EHRs are healthcare's way of dipping their toes into 2013. We MUST go beyond getting our toes wet and implement change methodologies, tools and processes that will guide all healthcare employees - clinical and non-clinical alike - to participate in and take responsibility for continuous process improvements within their spear of influence.
There are many process improvement techniques, but I'll put my money on Lean healthcare to eliminate obstacles preventing hospitals, provider offices, pharmacies, medical equipment manufacturers, software companies, etc., from providing best-in-class healthcare. Lean is simple, but not easy to implement because people cling to the comfortable ways of the past. The addage, "If it's not broke, don't fix it," MUST be eliminated from our memory banks.
If embraced by all, Lean methodologies eliminate issues as vast as out-of-date technology systems, worker frustration and errors and oversights that can increase patient safety risks. Some "fixes" are complex, but lean methodology strives to find well-thought-out improvements that can be implemented quickly and without costing a fortune, if at all possible -- thus the name Lean.
Our overarching goal should be put patients first, cut out waste, eliminate tasks that don't add value to the patient and ultimately lower the cost of healthcare delivery so we can compete in the global marketplace.
I can't think of a better goal than that, can you?
Please let me and our readers hear from you -- I truly welcome comments! Conversation is the best way for us to learn from each other.
TBD Consulting has a proven track record for ensuring staff and physician adoption of EMR/EHR system implementations as well as Lean Healthcare. Whether you need assistance to create a training department or organizational change department, help your existing training organization meet the needs of the ongoing changes, or simply need "extra hands" to meet your deadlines or ROI goals, please contact Jonena. She and her qualified staff are here to assist you with your organizational development, coaching and training initiatives.
Drop by our EMR/EHR Clinical Transformation Group in LinkedIn to learn the latest news and opinions on electronic health records.
Or feel free to call our office today 602-263-1961. We'd love to hear from you!