Health system id’s source of new ideas for reform

#5in5_Blog_BannerProponents of Lean process improvements can’t seem to emphasize enough the importance of engaging all employees and empowering them to become problem solvers.

Books, academic reports and articles all address the issue. Their message? Good ideas can come from anywhere – from a newly hired housekeeper to a ready-to-retire nurse manager.

The CEO of a Wisconsin-based health system went so far as to say top-down management simply doesn’t match the needs of modern healthcare, according to

By giving everyone a voice, organizations aim to recognize small problems before they become big problems and identify opportunities to improve.

At least one Lean healthcare operation is not only soliciting ideas from staff, it’s also considering input from patients.

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Kelly Schaudt

Wilmington Health’s Senior Director of Lean Operations Kelly Schaudt explains Wilmington uses satisfaction surveys to gauge what patients perceive when they enter a clinic.

“In lean and process improvement fresh eyes are so critical to making improvements,” says Schaudt.

“Our patients when they walk in our doors, they’re those fresh eyes for us. They’re able to point out things that just don’t make sense that are hard for us to see when we’re not standing in their shoes.”

Wilmington is also viewing Lean process improvements through the lens of different disease states. Schaudt says the goal is to improve quality and outcomes while removing waste and confusion for patients trying to maneuver through the healthcare system.

Schaudt answers five questions in five minutes about the processes Wilmington reviewed – from patient intake to stocking exam rooms – in an Optum Provider #5in5 interview. She also shares her most important piece of advice for an organization trying to implement Lean process improvement. Watch the video.

About the author

Karen Thomas-SmithKaren Thomas-Smith is vice president of Provider Marketing & Reference Management at Optum. She brings to the role more than 15 years of global experience in the software industry. Karen has shared her unique ideas on corporate culture and leadership in a number of television appearances on Oprah, 60 Minutes and Canada Public Television. Prior to her position at Optum, Karen spent time at Allscripts and SAS.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from North Carolina Wesleyan College, graduating Magna Cum Laude.

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