"What we did was really focus on reducing all the waste from the patient experience and what happened was that we saved our own time, saved our own redundancies and duplications of effort," Stone says. One of the biggest wastes identified was "multiple communications to multiple people," she says. When redundancies were eliminated and processes were standardized to optimize the patient experience, ED throughput was reduced from an average of 5 hours to 2.8 now. As a corollary, patient satisfaction jumped from the 30th percentile to the 96th, Stone says.
"The overall patient experience is so much more purposeful and the team members are more satisfied because what they're doing is meeting the needs of the patients and themselves while they're at it. It's kind of one of those things where we were looking at it from the patient experience, but we're also going to be thoughtful so that it makes sense for us, too. At this point in time with healthcare reform … and reimbursements going down, we all need to work smarter, not harder. But while we do that, we can focus on what's most important—providing the best patient care experience possible."
What blocks many healthcare organizations from sustainable process is complexity. The thought of mapping hundreds if not thousands of distinct processes is daunting. What helped Sharp to map processes from the ED to ICU and beyond was rooting those processes against a handful of "critical functions," Pratt says.
"There are a core set of critical functions that we do on every patient. That was kind of the nugget of truth that allowed us to simplify this to what's real," Pratt says. "Those common processes occur across the entire healthcare delivery system and all of those processes we identified key requirements for. When you do it at the macro level, then people can understand how it works for their individual jobs."