Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Need for Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare


By Keith Gardner

In most manufacturing companies, when a defect occurs, the manufacturer has to scrap out or rework the defective part. In most of the service world, when an error or mistake is made, they have to redo the work or, perhaps, placate an upset customer. However, in the healthcare world, when a mistake or error is made, the results can be much more serious; in fact, frighteningly so. 

Because of this, the healthcare industry (hospitals, medical device manufacturers, large medical practices, etc.) have recognized the need for process improvement to reduce the frequency of adverse patient outcomes resulting from process shortcomings. 

Many of these organizations have begun to embrace the use of Lean Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma allows a service provider to proactively reduce, or in some cases, eliminate, the potential for a mistake or error, opposed to solely relying on redundant checks to try to inspect in quality. It also allows organizations to reduce the waste (non-value-added) activity in their processes to not only lower costs, but to allow a greater focus on the value-added steps associated with caring for patients. Thus, Lean Six Sigma enables improvements in quality, productivity and customer satisfaction.  It also enables improvements in employee satisfaction by reducing non-value-added activity and time. 

The challenge, for most healthcare organizations, is that Lean Six Sigma is viewed by many as a manufacturing program and that is requires standardization of processes that inherently need to be flexible and allow for a human element.  If implemented properly, this is just not true. The key is to ensure that Lean Six Sigma is employed on the right processes with the desire of reducing non-value-added time and non-value-added work, so that healthcare professionals can focus on the value-added work that they do.  For example, how do we reduce the time that needs to be spent on billing?  No one in healthcare would object to that.  An actual example of how Lean Six Sigma helps reduce problems and waste comes from a hospital and its operating rooms.  Each surgeon has specific needs and preferences in terms of equipment and instruments and how they are located and arranged for surgery.  Routinely, the operating room was not set up to the surgeon’s needs.  Often this was discovered after surgery had begun, necessitating a rush to remediate in the midst of a (often complex) surgical procedure. Using the tools and methods of Lean Six Sigma, a Green Belt undertook a project to reduce the frequency of this problem from occurring.  She was able to reduce the frequency of occurrence by more than 80%, improving quality of outcomes and also enhancing customer satisfaction from both the patient’s and surgeon’s perspective. 

In today’s rapidly changing healthcare market, it is imperative that healthcare organizations become both more cost effective and more quality conscious with the goal of ever increasing patient outcomes. Lean Six Sigma offers a roadmap to enabling improvements in productivity, quality, customer satisfaction, and ultimately profitability.

Contact John Yancey or Edythe Abdullah to learn how Lean Six Sigma can help you and your organization. 

Additional Lean Six Sigma posts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Leadership for Women - Confidence vs. Courage

 UNF Leadership for Women - Click to learn more.
By Anita Abjornson

In a recent keynote address given at the NYU's School of Business commencement, General Electric's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, made a call to action for the graduates to have courage and venture into the unknown. He shared, "You are entering into a volatile global economy, the most uncertain I have ever seen. This is a world that needs better leaders, with new skill sets. The playbook from the past won't cut it today. My advice for you as you enter this world is to be flexible, be bold and don't fear criticism."
 
As women move into leadership positions in this volatile global economy, there is greater visibility, responsibility and a need for flexibility, boldness and a thick skin. We must prepare ourselves for greatness. That preparation starts with self-awareness and an understanding of how our unique behaviors, personal branding and even our work-life balance can tip the scales.

In the book "Standing at the Crossroads - Next Steps for High Achieving Women," the authors discuss the extensive research completed during The Women's Leadership Program at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL). They spotlight five key themes (needs) that are essential to guiding women's development:
  1. The need to act authentically
  2. The need to make connections
  3. The need to control one's destiny
  4. The need to achieve wholeness
  5. The need to gain self-clarity
As part of UNF's Leadership for Women program, we will use these five themes as a basis for exploring how we can enhance our self-awareness with DiSC, which will improve the flexibility as recommended by Mr. Immelt. We will learn to leverage our personal and professional brand to present our best, bold self and how to create balance in our lives by considering the themes discussed above. By using what makes us unique as women and developing our skills for current and future leadership roles, we will be taking necessary steps to set ourselves up for continued growth and success. 


If you're ready to take your leadership skills to the next level, attend University of North Florida's Leadership for Women program on June 22, from 8 a.m. to noon. Click here to learn more.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Five Signs You Are Burned Out and What To Do About It


Whether you work in an office, are a freelancer or are a stay-at-home parent, the signs of burnout are often the same. Regardless of our career choices, we ignore the symptoms of burnout because change is scary. This is understandable, as no one wants to leave their comfort zone. Fear of changing what we've been successful at can lead to being stuck in a state of denial.  However, not acknowledging burnout will only prevent you from taking action and being happier in the long run.

Some signs you may be burned out are:
  • It takes you more energy to perform tasks that you once did with ease
  • You feel exhausted before you even start to work
  • You find yourself thinking negative thoughts
  • You are impatient with management, colleagues or family (or all three). You used to get along with these people, but now everything they say seems to grate on your nerves
  • You feel like a weight is lifted when you are away from work 

If you feel this way, you should check with your doctor to make sure there isn't a physical cause for your exhaustion and lack of energy. If you have a clean bill of health, then you need to admit you are likely burned out.  Sure, you can run away on vacation for a few days but that won’t fix your problem. The thing about burnout is that it won't get better on its own. Take steps now to re-ignite your career.
 
What You Can Do About Burnout
 
Working through burnout is a process. First, talk to someone about it: a friend, colleague, family member, therapist or career counselor. Get the support you need to help you move forward. Talking to other people who have been in your shoes can help.
 
You may end up changing jobs or pursuing another line of work, but the cure for burnout doesn’t need to be drastic. Try one of these options to break the burnout cycle:
  • Study mindfulness. You don't need to meditate (although you could), but being more mindful of your daily actions can make them more interesting and help you control your negative thoughts and feelings
  • Take a college class. Freshen or advance your skills to make yourself available for new projects and promotions
  • Offer to do a task at work you have never done before, or create a social opportunity that everyone can join in outside of work
  • Sign up to volunteer for a local organization
  • Find or create a support group for workplace burnout
  • Take a class in something completely unrelated to your work. Try something creative or challenging, in a subject that appeals to you
  • Join an organization and attend conferences. Meet up with like-minded people and break up your daily routine
  • If you work from home, join a work co-op or other group to change up your schedule, and your work environment

It's About Accepting Change
 
The hardest thing about admitting and working through burnout is fear that things will change. Don’t fear change, embrace it! By making a change now, you will find a new appreciation for your job, career and maybe even your coworkers!