Thursday, November 10, 2011

"No one wants to be an Outlier" - Spine Surgeons at BIDMC Use Performance Improvement Tactics to Reduce Waste

This initiative at BIDMC to reduce waste in spine surgery is a great example of a "performance improvement system" (in this case they used Lean) to improve outcomes (in this case clinical utilization). A similar "performance improvement" approach can work in improving quality, mitigating risk, and improving patient safety.

The article identifies the following "performance improvement tactics" that should be integral components of all improvement projects:
  • Examined how much they used and spent (review and monitor data)
  • Questioned why each device was being being used (ask why five times)
  • Studied reasons for wastage (undertake root cause analysis)
  • Asked surgeons, operating room personnel, industry representatives, and nurses to help them identify waste (seek multi-disciplinary input)
  • Compiled lists of who had been wasting more instruments than others (create profiles)
  • Shared lists [of waste generators] with each other (create report cards)
  • Awareness campaign (educate)
  • Physician leadership prompted change (get support from leadership)
The key behavioral drivers that project leader, Dr. Kevin McGuire, Chief of Orthopedic Surgery, identified are "physicians are competitive in nature" and "no one wants to be an outlier". Understanding these drivers is key to understanding some of the performance improvement tools and how to deploy them effectively.

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