Saskatchewan’s health system is using Lean to improve care for patients, families, and providers. As a patient, I’ve had the opportunity to take part in several Lean improvement events in Saskatoon Health Region: a Production, Preparation, Process (3P) event and two Rapid Process Improvement Workshops (RPIWs).
Frankly, I was skeptical when I was first approached. I knew the health region was committed to making things better for patients and families. But would I really be treated as an equal member of the improvement team? Would people not only listen to my suggestions, but actually act on them?
For the 3P in December 2011 we all gathered in a warehouse , to learn the basics about Lean and then design an emergency department for the new Children’s Hospital.
It was an amazing week. There were many times it felt like we’d never finish all the work we needed to. But we stuck together as a team. Not once did I feel anyone was better than anyone else. In fact, it wasn’t until the last day that we actually found out what everyone else on the team did.
I loved this, because it meant that for that whole week, we were all at the same level. We all worked hard toward achieving a common goal: to design the best Adult and Children’s Emergency Department possible – one that would be good for not only patients and families, but also the staff who will work there. At the end of the week, I felt so proud to have been part of this wonderful experience.
I had the same positive experience with the two RPIWs. The aim of the first was to find a way to reduce the time patients wait in a holding area before being moved to the operating room. The second, just a few weeks ago, looked at the way the region reports patient safety incidents.
At the beginning of the RPIW week, you get some basic Lean training. This is so important. Both times, I’ve come away with new insights about how continuous improvement is being used in Saskatchewan. It is great to know that whatever changes we decide need to be made are in fact supported and acted upon. Again, it felt good to know that the others appreciated having a patient involved in the process. They were genuinely interested in what I thought. And I felt comfortable enough to speak up and tell them honestly what I felt was wrong and how I thought things could be improved.
I am now a believer in these processes our hospitals are using to make things better for patients and families. I trust that they have me in mind, as a regular user of the health care system. I have seen the different changes the region is making as a result of these improvement events. And while some of the processes may still need more work, I know that another patient and or family member will be part of the team to make sure that their important perspective is kept front and centre. We are getting to a point where, even if a patient or family member was not on the improvement team, the staff would speak up on their behalf.
If you’re invited – as a patient or family member — to participate in one of these improvement events, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity. It will be a great learning experience. And it will renew your faith in our health care system. It certainly did for me.
What did you think of this post? Did it affirm your view on the topic? Change your thinking? Let us know, using the Inspire-o-meter below.