The Cleveland Clinic’s capability to provide same day access for any specialty came up during a lunch break at a recent kaizen event. The idea of this capability, to me a seminal achievement in the customer first healthcare movement, baffled many in the event, but the fact that Cleveland Clinic actually does it, and advertises this capability nationally, left some dumbfounded.
Following this, you can imagine that I was very excited to see Obama considering the Cleveland Clinic CEO, Dr. Cosgrove, for the vacant secretary of Veteran Affairs job. For me it signaled, on the national stage, that lead time now matters in health care, and that patients, the media, and consumers at large are demanding health care to be on par with other industries in the time it takes from request of good / service through delivery (as retail creatively looks to shave minutes / seconds off of their lead time (see article below), does it not make the weeks / months in health care seem even more outdated?).
As a practicing lean consultant, working with clinical teams on the front lines, I have the opportunity of seeing this thought revolution occur one team/team member at a time. A transition to:
- Seeing their work as a process, and a process that needs to be customer first – challenging paradigms, a sense of helplessness, and other perceived barriers as they take action toward better.
- Experiencing the paradoxical power of diving into the details to produce big results: challenging the steps and sequence of their work – striving toward an ideal, and reducing cycle time and lead time as a result.
I’ve found the most enjoyment in helping teams experience that small improvements in their cycle time can add up fast, as:
- 5 minutes taken out of each 30 minute visit means 70 minutes back into their day. And this time back reduces lead time dramatically for other patients, as they can be seen today instead of tomorrow or next week.
- They break through the belief that ‘it’s as good as it can be’ and experience that the process can in fact be better for the patient and themselves, they begin to discover opportunities everywhere – big and small.
We have just begun to experience the tremendous possibility of this humble approach at Group Health, and the spread has been rapid as clinical teams rediscover what is possible, and that they are the experts – capable of leading the way to dramatic improvement in lead time, quality, and cost. I am left with high hopes – for what Cosgrove’s consideration (he has since declined) tells us about our nation’s growing expectation for health care, and a local parallel – my teams work to support a transformation in Group Health’s small piece of US healthcare. And why not be optimistic, maybe same day access for any specialty will be the norm across the US very soon…shouldn’t it be?
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