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Keys to Process Improvement

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, January 13, 2012
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Transforming data into information
Virtua Health, based in Marlton, NJ, with four hospitals, various ambulatory sites, and long-term care and home care components, has also wagered its future on performance improvement, although it uses a slightly different variation of Six Sigma and Lean techniques to drive the process. Under the system, every employee has a goal and objective for the year. Performance is measured and employees are held accountable, said Tejas Gandhi, PhD, assistant vice president of management engineering and Lean.

"How to empower them? Data is a key," he said. "Healthcare is data-rich but information-poor. Differentiation will be achieved by healthcare systems that can convert that data in to meaningful, actionable information."

That said, technology was not seen as the solution, but the enabler to a solution, said Lisa Demko, Six Sigma champion at Virtua.

"Technology wasn't the critical thing we needed to solve problems. It's really about processes and how people do the work. We ask ourselves this question often: Is [technology] truly supporting the process and people, or are we implementing technology to avoid dealing with the processes and workflow?"

Demko, Gandhi, and other leaders of process improvement at Virtua created a real-time, core measures quality dashboard to track performance that is available to all members of the team.

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