Lean management improves employee satisfaction

In the first independent comparative study of 13 Lean projects, staff at all levels reported higher employee satisfaction at every institution, citing better front-line staff involvement in problem-solving and employee collaboration, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

However, some staff didn't fully embrace Lean initiatives--the management approach rooted in quality efficiency--at their institutions, according to a column in Hospitals & Health Networks. Some employees noted they were frustrated that committing time to Lean and working with other departments took away from their regular duties.

"Physicians can be reticent to implement Six Sigma because the methodology has been incorrectly associated with huge resource output, their time specifically," Marti Beltz, Six Sigma instructor for American Society for Quality and healthcare quality consultant, told FierceHealthcare in a previous interview.

But as Charles Hagood, president and founder of Healthcare Performance Partners, explained to FierceHealthcare, "If Lean Six Sigma is deployed correctly, [physicians] will see the value and will want to become a part of the equation." He suggested carefully presenting the Lean Six Sigma approach rather than cramming it down, and physicians will come around in the long term and see its value.

Although healthcare leaders committed to Lean management as a way to boost quality and efficiency, none paid much attention to the implementation costs after adoption, Steven Garfinkel, managing director of the American Institutes for Research in Chapel Hill, N.C., wrote in the H&HN column.

"We cannot be sure that Lean is more effective than other process improvement techniques," he said.

Nevertheless, healthcare organizations can adapt the model successfully. For instance, one hospital conducted rapid process improvements to assess door -to-balloon time, a quality measure for treating heart attack patients. After emergency department staff and the catheterization lab met to find out why delays occurred, they concluded one reason was that a technician had to travel from home to set up the cath lab during night shifts. Instead, ED nurses and technicians then set up right after confirming a patient have ST segment elevation myocardial infarction. The result: Door-to-balloon time dropped from 89 minutes to 77.

For more information:
- read the H&HN column

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