VSM: Improving Hospital Cash Flow Using Lean
Healthcare cannot be likened to a factory, however there is one similarity insofar as delays in the billing chain can still hold up the process of turning patient care into revenue. Within any industry, the flow of cash is extremely important and healthcare is no different.
Read Related Articles On Healthcare Global
- Tips For Developing A Lean Procurement Function
- Cost Management Within Hospital Supply Chain
- Managing The Medical Supply Chain
Healthcare Global discovers four ways hospital executives can improve cash flow through lean efforts >>>
#1. Identify The Key Players In The Team
Before you implement any changes it is important to listen to what your people on the ground are saying. Before you embark on a lean journey coordinate a week when members from every step of the billing workflow, including nurses and hospital executives, met for five eight-hour days to brainstorm, goal set and devise a plan of attack. Sharingtheir interaction in the billing process will give needed insight to help find where waste occurs and where and how it can be feasibly prevented.
It is understandable that many healthcare executives may be afraid of taking employees off the ward for such a long period of time, however frontloading the planning accomplishes 40 to 50 hours of planning in one week that could otherwise take a year of hour-long weekly meetings. This not only keeps all parties on the same page when changes are launched, but it allows for better accountability and easier on-the-spot adjustments while plans are implemented.
#2. Share Ideas & Prioritize Solutions
During the planning week, have attendees make diagrams of the billing workflow using Post-Its describing each step of the process and each department's role in advancing claims. This is called Value Stream Mapping and helps everybody identify where problems are occurring.
Once the process has been identified, attendees can brainstorm possible solutions and improvements to the current system, then prioritized those solutions into four groups based on how cost and time effective each would be. This will help the team see multiple ways to confront the problem at the lowest cost and with the greatest chance of successful follow-through.
Now you have a plan in place, it is vital to implement it effectively. This will take commitment from the whole planning team and involves a lot of checking to ensure processes are being followed correctly. Once the process is up and running it is also useful to make changes where necessary. Training is a big part of this, as well as streamlining processes.
Ensure accountability for those responsible for implementing the changes. It is essential to realise the importance of accountability and to ensure there are checks in place to make sure the new processes are being adhered to.
Empowering staff members to identify and address waste at the ground level helps to maintain those efficiency improvements organically without the need to devote an entire week to planning sessions. The solution is to educate more people and get more looking for waste in their area.