Monday, December 10, 2012

Focus and Leverage Part 175

In my last posting I discussed how two of the new recently trained Green Belts in the Chicago area healthcare facility used two newly learned improvement tools, namely the Process Map (with swim lanes) and a Value Stream Analysis to solve a lingering problem.  I also spent an inordinate amount of time describing another tool, the Interference Diagram and how it can be used to exploit a system constraint.  In this posting I want to discuss how two another two Green Belts used this tool to help stimulate their team, who was sort of stuck in the mud, move toward a solution to a problem that they had been working on.

These two Green Belts had been working on a project in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) at this facility and although they were making progress, they needed something that would stimulate the team to bigger and better things.  Maybe some new improvement tool would do the trick?  And when both of these Green Belts saw the Interference Diagram for the first time, they both knew that this tool could help them inspire their team to move in a new direction.  The team met shortly after their training and developed their own version of the Interference Diagram.

Figure 1

Figure 1 is the Interference Diagram (ID) that this team developed and as you can see, the Goal, or what this team wanted more of, was to be able to move this patient out of the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) much faster than they had been doing primarily because they needed the room for incoming patients and they had a limited number of beds that new patients could occupy.

If you remember my last posting, I told you that the items in the boxes surrounding the goal are the interferences or barriers that hold you back from achieving more of what you want.  This team has identified nine (9) barriers or areas for improvement and one-by-one their job now is to eliminate them altogether or reduce the effects of each interference.  The team’s conclusion was that these interferences, to one degree or another, all contribute to the extended time that patients remain in the Post Anesthesia Care Unit making the patient stay longer than it should be.  Their team’s mission now is to brainstorm solutions for each interference and then design a new process that will either eliminate the interferences or significantly reduce their impact.

The team still needs to estimate just how much time each of these interferences account for to determine the impact on the throughput of patients into and out of this unit.  As a result of the use of this ID, there is now a desire and need to run a full-blown project such as a Value Steam Analysis or Rapid Improvement event which will hopefully be scheduled and completed sometime in January.  I will meet with these two team leaders this week to discuss how best to approach this new initiative.  When the team completes this improvement effort, I will report on it here.  But one thing is for certain….these two new Green Belts and their team members are absolutely sold on this new tool.

Bob Sproull

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