Kaizen event brings new ideas to improve patient experience

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By James Scarfone

Many patients and visitors to the hospital often have to find their way to certain departments. In high stress situations, it can be tough to find one’s bearings and know exactly where to go.

One unit at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) looked specifically at standardizing key parts of its operation, including patient wayfinding. The aim? To improve a person’s experience at the hospital.

“We recognize the need to address certain parts of the patient experience,” says Dr. Shawn Mondoux, an emergency physician at HHS. “We needed to zoom in on and examine the way we operate, of course, with an eye on always improving the quality of care we give.”

Patient flow is always top of mind for doctors in emergency medicine as well as many staff.

Combine that with a steady resolve to continuously improve processes in their unit, and you have a team willing to try anything to make a patient’s hospital stay better.

Event draws many staff to work on unit improvements

Hamilton General Hospital’s emergency department (ED) recently underwent a week-long series of sessions called a kaizen event.

Developed from the lean management philosophy, the event was an opportunity for staff and doctors on the unit to find new ways to improve the patient experience. Over 50 HHS staff attended the sessions.

A facilitator leads the intense all-day sessions with the goal to create new outcomes. Many involved creating standardized work or ensuring equipment is optimized.

As a former engineer, Dr. Mondoux brings a unique approach to HHS.

“We developed a system-focussed process for evaluating the way we do things and why we do them,” says Dr. Mondoux. “There are many doctors now who bring that kind of mindset to their work.”

Dr. Mondoux also took a course in lean management. One reason he was recruited to join HHS and to be a champion of the kaizen event was because of his attention to quality improvement.

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Culture change throughout the hospital

There has been a lot of change happening at HHS the past two years, notably with the launch of the Continuous Quality Improvement management system.

The kaizen event used similar tools as what CQI units use regularly. For instance, the group needed to prioritize its improvement opportunities using a quadrant chart. This helped determine whether to continue with projects or to kibosh them altogether based on their impact and effort needed to complete them.

“This is about developing a series of overarching projects that not only affect the ED, but we want to create meaningful change that will be felt across the hospital,” said Dr. Mondoux.

He added that all projects are being tracked by the hospital’s CQI initiative. Dr. Mondoux’s vision is very much in line with the hospital’s vision for its staff: to empower them to make change.

Emergency department constantly innovating

The ED at the General isn’t new to innovation.

In March, a pair of HHS doctors launched a new board game that simulates the ED experience by teaching students and residents how to manage patients in a busy unit.

It was also one of two pilot units that helped develop CQI. It contributed a large portion of the total number of improvements seen across the entire organization since 2016, including the introduction of naloxone kits.

The unit hopes to implement all its desired outcomes from the kaizen event within a year.

James Scarfone is a Public Relations Specialist at Hamilton Health Sciences.