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Let It Flow

Summary: This article presents a case study involving the improvement of a healthcare facility's perioperative patient flow using lean Six Sigma improvement strategies. The facility is Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, which is located in Philadelphia and has a large volume of inpatient and outpatient surgical volume flowing through its many operating rooms. The operating room is a setting abundant with opportunities for improvement. System inefficiencies can lead to sub-optimization of operating room use, thereby decreasing revenue generation. Delays, from patients arriving to entering the preoperative holding area, have an impact on the ability to start scheduled OR procedures on time. Due to high surgical volumes, delays in first cases have a cascading effect on the entire schedule, bottlenecking pre- and post-procedural areas. These delays have fiscal consequences, too, and are a primary source of patient and employee dissatisfaction. The perioperative department is responsible for all surgical procedure activities. In 2010, the department underwent a strategic plan overview to identify opportunities to streamline and improve operational processes. To facilitate rapid change, certified lean practitioners were assembled to evaluate and subsequently enhance the operations and patient flow throughout the operating rooms. The article details the issues and themes identified, the solutions that were implemented, and the results.

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  • Topics: Metrics
  • Keywords: Case study, Patient flow, Hospitals, Health care, Six Sigma, Process improvement
  • Author: Delisle, Dennis R.; Jaffe, Kathleen;
  • Journal: Six Sigma Forum Magazine