Atlanta VA Health Care System
VAMC Recognizes 36 Employees For "Lean Thinking"
By Heather L. Miller, MSN, MHA, RN
The Atlanta VA Medical Center vision of a culture of continuous process improvements is well on its way. Through the use of LEAN principles and use of the VHA Systems Redesign Improvement Framework: VA-TAMMCS, process improvement champions have taken the lead.
Seven teams, 36 employees, were recognized for challenging themselves and their service lines in promoting a culture of Lean and Systems Thinking. Awards distinguished Atlanta employees who demonstrated the courage, passion, ability, will, and perseverance to influence and implement change of more timely and efficient care in either clinical or business/administrative services.
Service Lines submitted completed projects for nomination based on specific criteria. The award criteria included 10 key areas; innovation, risk-taking, quality, efficiency, access, patient-centered care, enhances veteran or customer satisfaction, systems thinking, value of accomplishment for sharing as a model for other facilities and sustainability. In addition, had show evidence of using the principles of Lean and a methodical systems thinking approach.
Award winners were recognized at the Leadership Council on October 18, 2012. Each team received a plaque for display in their area. Plagues presented by the Medical Center Director, Mr. James A. Clark, MPA read the team members names along with acknowledgement of the teams’ demonstration of the courage, passion, ability, will and perseverance to influence and implement change. Each member of the team was also provided a certificate of recognition that highlighted the teams’ impact on the facility.
Process Improvement Team Award Winners
Nursing: Peri-operative Services Ambulatory Care Unit developed a documentation template that is compatible with the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS). The team sited a gap in performance where medical records were not always available in real time through CPRS. The pre-operative documentation template allows ambulatory surgery unit staff to document a comprehensive pre-assessment that is immediately available to others on the healthcare team. This customer service focused project increased interdepartmental efficiency, increased quality and safety of veteran care, and standardized services.
Engineering: Overtime Reduction Team formulated a team and developed a process to sustain structure to the department overtime process, developed consistent documentation for staffing analysis and developed an electronic form (PDF) for monetary tracking. Minimizing the overtime spending through a systems thinking approach reduced overtime spending by >75%. This innovative project altered the status quo, achieved higher quality of service, decreased work delays, centralized approval process, provided oversight and monetary savings/cost avoidance.
Geriatrics: Audiology Quickturn Team designed a mechanism for improving the hearing aid repair process. The multi-user program allows staff too simultaneously to access the status of hearing aid repairs. This effective program decreased the processing times for both vendor and in-house repairs which increased departmental efficiency, reduced veteran wait times, and improved quality of service.
Finance: Cashless Reimbursement of Beneficiary Travel implemented a compliance driven project to meet the requirements of the Department of Treasury and VHA. Evidence supports the need to switch payment from cash to check to minimize fraud and safety hazards. The elimination of cash payments to veterans for travel reimbursement through a systematic approach increases staff and patient safety while eliminating non-value added steps for compensation.
Medical Specialty Care: Timeliness of +FOBT Follow-up Team focused on improving timeliness of providing a diagnostic colonoscopy to veterans with a positive fecal occult blood test (+FBOT) per VHA policy. The systems thinking commitment of the GI Service, Laboratory staff and leadership decreased the turn-around time of colonoscopy from 90 day outliers to a sustained rate of less than/equal to 60 days.
Ophthalmology: Medflow/DSS EHR for Eye Care Team put into practice an Electronic Health Record (EHR) to be used by Eye Care providers in the VA Healthcare System to promote continuity of care.
Surgical: Innovian Anesthesia Workgroup collaborated to sustain improvements for retrieving greater than 90% of the anesthesia records identified as missing from CPRS 30 days past the day of surgery and create a process that quickly identifies systems or process failures and correct them within 48 hours of the procedure to prevent backlogs.