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Systemwide Process Improvement

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, April 14, 2011
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The return on investment for systemwide process improvement, Kaplan says, extends beyond revenue. Since adopting VMPS, there have been innumerable quality improvements, such as:

  • Nursing units improved the percentage of time spent providing direct patient care to 90% from 35%, with changes such as in-room stocking of common supplies, bedside handoffs and patient care charting.
  • Nursing teams cut the incidence of pressure ulcers to 2% from 8%, preventing a projected 838 patients per year from acquiring bedsores.
  • Teams cut staff walking distance by 2.8 miles and removed 357 hours of lead time from lab operations. This, with other improvements, has reduced the time to report lab test results to patients by more than 85%.
  • Pharmacy teams improved medication distribution time from physician order to availability for administration to 10 minutes from 2.5 hours and reduced incomplete inpatient medication orders to less than 0.2% from a range of 20% to 40%.
  • Quality improvements have led to a 52% reduction in professional liability insurance in the past five years.

With healthcare reform taking hold and decreased Medicare and Medi-caid reimbursements looming, Kaplan believes that this approach is even more relevant. “The quick fixes are few and far between. Though returns can be seen early on, in many forms … this is a long journey,” says Kaplan.

Mercy St. Vincent Hospital, Toledo, OH

Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center is a 532-licensed-bed Level 1 Trauma Center for adults and children. It is the critical care regional referral and teaching center within the seven-hospital Mercy Health System, based in Toledo, OH. Mercy St. Vincent was a key in helping Mercy and its parent organization, Catholic Health Partners, achieve recognition as one of the top 10 health systems in the United States by Thomson Reuters. The hospital’s process improvement efforts began with Lean and Six Sigma back in 2006.

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1 comments on "Systemwide Process Improvement"


james mcniff (4/15/2011 at 8:56 AM)
This same opportunity exists in non-clinical applications like the revenue cycle..Per AHA, hospital expenditures for 2009 was 724 billion dollars..If we assume a 5% margin the net revenue would be about 760 billion..The average hospital's cost to collect is about 4%..This equates to 30 billion spent on the revenue cycle..Through the application of the HIPAA business transactions,intelligent software and process redesign there is the potential of reducing these costs from 30 to 50%..A savings of 10 to 15 billion dollars a year for the industry..