Understanding How to Make Process Improvements in Healthcare

Process improvement can be defined as actions used to identify, analyze and improve on existing processes in a business or organization. In this article, we are addressing process improvement strategies and How to Make Process Improvements in Healthcare a more viable process.

In the Healthcare Industry, Process Improvement is an ongoing practice and should always be followed up with the analysis of tangible areas of improvement in all departments. This way, processes are always improved upon and when implemented successfully, the results can be measured in the enhancement of increased patient satisfaction, more efficient care, better population health, development of the skills of employees in all levels of the healthcare organization including non-medical staff, efficiency and reduced cost of care, and all-around increase in productivity,

Definition of Process Improvement in Healthcare

We’ve defined process improvement but we haven’t defined what exactly it means in the healthcare industry. Though the concept is pretty much the same across industries, in the healthcare industry, process improvements have some nuances and differences that other industries might not have the need for. The healthcare industry is one with tons of data and a need to always have accurate data at the right time at all time- the lives of patients depend on it. So improving processes that involves data storage and acquisition for example, takes a lot more priority and importance than say, a business organization trying to improve processes involved in their sales or customer acquisition.

With Process improvement, there are different approaches to be considered but it often involves a systematic approach which follows a specific methodology and same goes for the healthcare industry – but these specific methodologies change across departments and even process management teams. . Many industries and organizations devote a huge chunk of their strategic plan to process improvement. Some examples are benchmarking or lean manufacturing, each of which focuses on different areas of improvement and uses different methods to achieve the best results in the manufacturing industry. Processes can either be modified or complemented with subprocesses or even eliminated for the ultimate goal of improvement.

What is a Process Improvement Plan

The process improvement plan is a component of the Project Management Plan. The purpose of the process improvement plan is to document how the project team will analyze various processes, determine where improvements can be made, and implement improvement measures. A process improvement plan should not be mistaken for a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Performance improvement is the process of measuring the output of a particular process or procedure in an organization and then modifying the process or procedure to increase output, increase efficiency, and/or effectiveness of the process or procedure. Though related to process improvement, performance improvement in healthcare is done routinely in healthcare organizations in order to improve clinical outcomes and patient experiences while reducing costs. Process Improvement is a more wholesome and long-term approach usually carried out by a process improvement specialist accompanied by a team.

Who is a Process Improvement Specialist

A process improvement specialist is an individual tasked with the duty of identifying processes and championing a plan to improve on them. A process improvement specialist serves as a consultant to a business, organization, or in this case, a healthcare organization or hospital and starts the process of evaluating, planning, and implementing improvements in business processes/patient care processes and practices. Other aspects of the job can include team building and group facilitation, compiling and tracking data, and preparing training materials. When it comes to improving the process in which data is stored or accessed, then a process improvement specialist would most likely be a data analyst or someone with data analysis experience. Being familiar with data storage software like EHR for example is a skill that must be possessed.