by Eric Hammons

The Challenge

A university healthcare system’s facility expansion, coupled with new technology and the organization’s adoption of Lean process improvement principles, presented a rare opportunity to design workspaces and processes that enabled ideal patient flows and staff efficiencies. 

In its strategic aim to serve more people in more places, the healthcare system planned to open a number of new facilities, ranging from small doctors’ offices and procedure rooms to several large, 90,000+ square feet multi-clinic specialty facilities and a new 368-bed hospital. Determined to deliver innovative, patient-centered care, leaders invested in several groundbreaking technologies that could fundamentally change healthcare experiences for patients and families, if properly implemented. To ensure the new facilities received the proper support, the healthcare system also planned to open a new call center and new maintenance facility. 

Client leaders engaged Point B to provide program leadership expertise to assist in activating all these facilities. A large part of their ask was for Point B to help the client’s Activation Team build workflows that complimented the unique mix of care models, new technologies, and building designs found within each facility. Point B’s four-dimensional Future of Work framework allowed us to balance Human (patient), Machine (process), Digital (team interactions), and Physical (space) needs for the client.

Right expertise, right time

Point B's greatest value to this client was our ability to integrate innovative models of care and new technologies into everyday standard work for staff.  Starting with a strong grasp of population data and a clear vision of each facility’s model of care, Point B and the client’s Activation Team steered operations and medical leaders to decisions on services, support activities, and technologies for each facility. These decisions informed the placement of departments, equipment, patient flows, and paths of travel for staff. 

Practice makes perfect. Before each facility opening, teams ran a series of "Day in the Life" walkthroughs, which helped familiarize staff with new technologies and workflows. The walkthroughs focused on the most critical or complex workflows, checked equipment, tested supply flows, and gave staff an opportunity to practice handoffs between departments. Teams used these walkthroughs to create punch lists and make necessary changes to workflows and equipment prior to opening.

Healthy workflows that work

Teams experienced strong results from successfully integrating standard workflows with new technologies and workspaces.  Registration staff reduced cycle time to register patients by 70 percent at every facility utilizing new registration and check-in technology. Departments improved coordination of multiple same-day visits using various communication devices and protocols, which increased patient satisfaction. Additionally, staff appreciated being included in the activation process.

By working closely with Point B, the client gained the improved structure and toolkit required to optimize workflows whenever they opened a new building or incorporated new technology, and client staff can repeat the good results themselves going forward.