Friday, November 22, 2013

I don't think Neil Bacon (of IWantGreatCare* fame) meant to reinforce one of the main tenets of Lean process improvement in a recent blog post, but he did do so. I also don't think Neil meant to enhance the Lean philosophy by adding a new key dimension, but he did that, too.  Let's start with his story from University Hospitals Morecambe Bay Trust:

The senior nurse from the surgical unit recounted to her colleagues how last week an elderly patient had used his iPad, from his hospital bed, to provide feedback on his care, highlighting a problem and concern he had using the iWantGreatCare pages for the hospital.

The nurses on the wards are able to receive instant alerts if there are concerns that need addressing for their ward – and thus the nurses were instantly made aware of a problem. Interestingly, in his comment the patient said something along the lines of “this needs sorting at some point, but I don’t want to interrupt anyone now”. Whilst the comments on iWantGreatCare are anonymous there were not many elderly patients sitting in bed with iPads! Thus the nurse was able to go directly to the patient and say “Let’s solve that problem now”.

I am told that the patient (who is still in the hospital) was completely amazed, not really expecting anybody to do anything ever, let alone seconds after he had given his feedback – this was not what he had come to expect from the NHS! Not only was the problem fixed, but the patient has been telling all his visitors and family about the incredible hospital and how the staff really listen, really care and get things fixed. His confidence is high, as is the morale of the staff who see people talking about the great care they deliver.

Lean is about front-line driven process improvement.  We encourage staff to call out problems they see in their work environment, and then managers "swarm" on those call-outs--in real time--and invent experiments that might improve the situation.

Here, though, we've gone a step further.  Here, the patient has been added to the front-line team by being given a simple technological approach that permits him/her to be empowered to make the call-out.

Whether Neil knows it or not, he just advanced the science of process improvement in the health care environment by one great leap forward. Well done!

* Think TripAdvisor for health care to get the concept.


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