Designing processes for the right person


“It is not the employer who pays wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” – Henry Ford


If you’ve worked on a project with me you know that one of my favorite questions to ask is “who benefits from the process, us or the patient”.  Far too long we’ve created processes in health care because they make life easier for us.  We should be developing processes that make life easier for the patient and we need to look at every process we have from the perspective of the patient.

A couple of years ago when we renovated the Outpatient Treatment Center we had an opportunity to include space for an admitting booth.  It never made sense to me that patients who were accessing services on the second floor had to go through the admitting entrance just to complete the admitting process.  The main entrance to the facility is closer to the elevators.  Most patients accessing services in the OTC are only here for that specific service so it would be easier on them to go straight to OTC and perform the admitting process there.  The change was implemented at the time of renovation and the feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive.

We made a similar change a couple of weeks ago for OB patients being sent to the Birthing Center from the clinic for testing.  Prior to the change those patients had to walk past the elevators to go to admitting then walk back down the hall to get on the elevator to go to the third floor.  Now we bring the admitting process to the patient which allows the patient to go directly to the Birthing Center.  The process is patient friendly and easy for the patient.  The process change has created a little more work for us, but, that’s why we’re here to work and to serve the patient.

Sometimes it’s hard for us to develop processes that make life easier for the patient because we don’t share their perspective and we don’t experience the same thing they do.  In the past we’ve been reluctant to ask patients for input when we create processes or develop new services.  We tend to think we know best because we are “health care experts” but in doing so we’ve done our patients a disservice because they are the real experts.

That’s about to change.  We are in the process of creating a Patient and Family Advisory Council.  The purpose of the council will be to give us input on processes and services so that we design them around the patient and not for the patient.  As we move forward with the creation of the council we will have to give up a little control.  We can’t ask for their input if we’re not going to use it.

We are in a unique position to take advantage of the benefits of a Patient and Family Advisory Council.  It’s not everyday that we do a 100,000 square foot expansion but we’re in the middle of one right now.  We can involve the council early in the process to help us understand how to open the new space with processes that are patient friendly as opposed to changing processes later on.

I’d challenge you to think about processes in your department.  Are the processes patient friendly or GVMH friendly.  If the processes are GVMH friendly, ask a patient how they could improve.

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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