3 Steps to do the Impossible With Physician-Led Teams

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At the Becker's Hospital Review 5th Annual Meeting in Chicago on May 16, Andrew Greenfield, MD, executive vice president of anesthesia services at Sheridan Healthcare, Tony Andrulonis, MD, senior vice president for emergency services at Sheridan Healthcare, Glen Kaplan, MD, regional medical director of Sheridan radiology services and medical director of FRESH Teleradiology, and MaryPat Cooper, kaizen promotion officer, discussed the three steps used by physician-led kaizen teams to overcome healthcare organization challenges.

Kaizen, which means "rapid improvement for the better" in Japanese, focuses on continually improving and standardizing processes based on the input of everyone involved in the work itself, said Ms. Cooper. In the clinical setting, kaizen allows a year's worth of work to be accomplished in three to five days by getting a team of hospital executives, physicians, nurses and other hospital staff together to solve address a challenge, she added.

The first step of a kaizen event is consultation and assessment. Once an area of tension or a hospital challenge is identified, the physician-led kaizen team uses a "big idea scope sheet" as a blueprint to solving the problem, said Dr. Greenfield. The blueprint provides guidance and direction throughout the kaizen event and helps ensure everyone involved, including hospital executives, are on the same page concerning what the problems are. "Sometimes a physician team may see a problem, but the executive team may not," added Dr. Greenfield.

Kaizen events are physician-led because physicians tend to be "the natural leaders of the clinical team," said Dr. Kaplan. Although the kaizen events are led by physicians, the physicians are not the bosses of the team. "One of the beauties of a kaizen is it works from the bottom up," added Dr. Kaplan.

"The idea is to come out of a kaizen event with a new process," said Dr. Andrulonis. The new process should be implemented immediately, and it can always be refined later. After implementation, there needs to be follow-up for sustainability, added Dr. Andrulonis.

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