Sustainable clinical process improvement has been actively sought by many healthcare organizations, but only a few have achieved said improvements. Why? Most organizations feel the need to improve or spread clinical and operational outcomes; however, they stumble in the execution. We will explain the key components to create long-lasting success.
Well-intended healthcare systems have taken on the task of improving clinical processes and, therefore, patient outcomes over the years. Unfortunately, this often takes shape via very specific and small scope focused projects, usually siloed from other parts of the organization. In addition, there tends to be limited or no alignment to an overall network improvement strategy. Without broader alignment, it is difficult to obtain organizational traction and garner resources to implement sustained work. Adding to the complexity of transformation, many organizations have a plethora of data but lack information or defined analytics. There is no formal connection to business intelligence or analytics. Various improvement disciplines (Lean, Six Sigma, PDCA, TPS, etc.) are employed which leads to confusion and frustration by frontline caregivers expected to implement the improvement projects. A discrepancy between tool and process subsequently occurs. As such, intense competition for resources between disparate parts of the system ensues and sub-optimizes the entire outcome. Ultimately, without formal governance structures and limited senior executive buy-in, the improvement process increases frustration and fails.
Enabler 1 - Strong executive sponsorship and support, including the board of directors. Any highly visible organizational change should always have the support of the most senior-level executives. While this sounds simple, achieving this support is much harder. Many competing priorities, limited resources, and a lack of clear understanding to link the improvement process to organizational success all contribute to the lack of support. How do you overcome this? Start with small tests of change, preferably ones which do not, or minimally, disrupt clinical delivery.