The value stream map (VSM) assignment was the most useful techniques I learned during this course. I was able to apply it to a current quality improvement project at work. The VSM was a quick and easy way for me to view a process and identify waste. All of the techniques I learned were helpful. Learning the various techniques have proved beneficial and all can be applied depending on the type of quality improvement project. Of all the models for improvement, I struggled most with the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA). The PDSA exercise was useful but I found the template to be too text heavy.
According to Delisle (2015), healthcare organizations are focusing on improvement methodologies to increase patient safety and implement lean thinking to reduce waste in processes. It is important that healthcare organizations remain engaged in quality improvement and lean approaches if they want to receive funding and recognition for patient care. Quality measures and reporting benchmarks are being used to determine if certain organizations such as Accountable Care Organizations and Primary Care Medical Homes qualify for shared savings (Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 2016).
The greatest barriers I have encountered when trying to apply quality improvement and lean techniques involve buy-in from leaders. Without leadership support, a project cannot be successful. I have learned that suggesting rapid improvement projects tend to be more accepted by leadership than long-term projects due to difference in time and financial investments necessary for completion. A benefit my organization has over other healthcare institutions is a quality improvement department. This department offers a quality improvement course and certification employees can take for free. Also, the department is able to assign quality improvement engineers to projects throughout the institution which adds an additional level of expertise. For individuals without access to quality improvement education within their healthcare organization, I would recommend they seek an online course or free tutorials to learn the basic methods and techniques. Based on the current healthcare environment and continuing shifting culture towards improvement, I would also hope that healthcare employees begin learning about quality improvement and lean thinking techniques.
Delisle, D. (2015). Executing lean improvements: A practical guide with real-world healthcare case studies. Milwaukee, WI: Quality Press.
Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (2016). Improving quality of care for Medicare patients:
Accountable care organizations. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/medicare/medicare-fee-for-service- payment/sharedsavingsprogram/
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