Best Practices for Driving
Process Transformation in Healthcare
Kathi Cox – Senior Director, System Integration & Innovation Office
Texas Health Resources
Two years ago, Texas Health Resources began a major initiative to become more efficient with their most valuable resource – their staff. The following are key learnings for driving process transformation in healthcare, however, these principles can be applied to any type of process transformation, across all industries.
1. Start with Benchmarking to Set Goals
With any process transformation initiative, your organization needs to start by benchmarking to gain a deep understanding of your current state as well as how you compare to similar organizations. This provides you with an objective view of your current landscape, allowing you to set adequate goals for your process improvement initiatives. Establishing clear targets gives you the ability to put a stake in the ground so everyone in your organization knows where you need to be.
2. Bring Together the Solution Teams
To make transformational changes in your organization, you need to stop looking at your processes from simply a functional point of view. By forming solution set teams, you can bring together representatives from all functional areas involved in a specific process. This allows you to have a clear picture of all touch points in the process in order to develop an effective solution. Without this collaborative approach, you’ll be simply throwing the ball over the fence to another functional team.
3. Make Data Useful
Without measurement, you don’t know where you are going. It is critical to empower your teams with access to reliable, timely and understandable information. Sources of data may include your EMR, ERP and RTLS systems. The best way for your staff to act on this data is to provide them with operational dashboards, which deliver an at-a-glance view of your current situation and how you are performing against the goal.
4. Establish an Oversight and Governance Structure
To achieve results, it is critical to provide discipline and structure to the process. Establishing clear oversight and a governance structure makes that possible. A steering committee should oversee the work of the design/implementation teams and resolve any possible conflicts and bottlenecks. The design/implementation teams should work directly with the solution set teams to apply innovative process and functional redesign, and engage unit level leaders in applying and quantifying the impact of identified solutions.
5. Prepare for Process Sustainability
Many initiatives produce outstanding initial results, however without a sustainment plan these initiatives often don’t see long-term success, especially in regards to staff productivity. Don’t fall into a trap of a “crash diet” – where you start strong by making drastic cuts, but quickly regress to where you started or worse. To sustain your goals, you need to think from the beginning about a support program for your initiative, so you are not reverting to the old ways of doing things. The program should include ongoing training in areas such as Lean/Six Sigma and business analytics. You should also remember to share wins, even small ones, with the entire organization and recognize the hard work your teams are doing.
About the Author:
Kathi Cox leads and directs the design and deployment of large-scale strategic initiatives including oversight of process engineers, data analysts, implementation managers and enterprise-wide teams required for successful strategic implementation. She leads change through individual and group facilitation in order to align senior leaders towards THR long-term strategic goals, relying on extensive experience and judgment to plan and accomplish goals. She is currently on target to deliver $49 million dollars in labor savings in 2016 for THR wholly-owned hospitals. Additionally, she has delivered operational tools designed to provide operators timely analytics to inform business decisions that affect organizational KPIs.