Sunday, July 08, 2012

First Lean steps in Jerusalem

I spent the day at the main campus of the Hadassah Medical Organization today in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, with staff members engaged in learning about and experimenting with Lean process improvement.  I think the hardest thing for people to accept about Lean is that it is a philosophy based on incremental steps rather than major revamping of complex systems.  The idea is that small advances lead to great gains over time.  Your front-line staff encounter a problem in the workplace and then you design an experiment to try to solve the problem.  Then you evaluate the effectiveness of the experiment and, if necessary, redesign it.  If it works, the new "current state" becomes the basis on which you then try to move to yet another improved "future state."  The process never ends.

Every hospital I have ever visited has a problem discharging patients in a timely manner, and Hadassah is no exception.  This is an important problem to fix for obvious reasons, but there is a not-so-obvious reason as well:  When patients do not leave the wards, it creates a back-up in the emergency department.  Patients find themselves spending hours awaiting a room upstairs.

On one internal medicine ward, Murielle Cohen, the chief nurse, and Professor Dror Mevorah, the chief attending physician, are testing out a simple experiment, whether a white board listing all patients possibly eligible for discharge, along with each step required in the discharge process, might facilitate communication between the nursing staff and the doctors and others to move things along.  During my tour today, they were joined by Chana Tsurel, manager of the internal medicine department, and Pnina Sharon, head nurse of the ER, both of whom have been working to improve communication between the two departments.

In the eye clinic, another approach was taken by head nurse Sigalit Cohen and her physician and technician colleagues.  They faced a problem of long waiting times because a certain injection procedure was batched once per day.  By adding a second session, they were able to improve the flow of patients through the clinic.

Both of these examples are small steps forward in a big hospital that has not yet become fully engaged with Lean.  But they offer the possibility of confidence building measures that will help persuade doctors and nurses that there is potential for broader improvement if people make the commitment to Lean principles.


Anonymous said...

Hi Paul-

I've been reading your blog for a while, and I was wondering - how long are you going to be in Israel? Do you have an free time? I'd love to meet you. Please be in touch.

Shmuel (Sam) Korb

Paul Levy said...

That would be great, but they seem to have me fully subscribed. Please send a note on Fbook or LinkedIn with contact information, or post a comment with your email, just in case.