Patient representatives vital part of Lean improvement events


The teams created for Rapid Process Improvement Workshops (RPIW) bring people together from the program area and staff members involved in the processes, as well as lean leaders to guide the workshop.

Patient representatives are a vital member of each RPIW team. “Patients bring their experience with the health care system to the improvement workshops,” said Pat Stuart, Vice-President of Quality Management.

“Whether it is a positive or negative experience, they (patients) help keep the teams focused on how the process affects the patients. They are also a new set of eyes, and the regular question of ‘why are you doing it this way?’ is a great way to force all of us to more deeply examine the processes for waste.”
(Pat Stuart, VP Quality Management)

Ken Wiest has been a patient representative for three RPIWs in Prince Albert Parkland. A long-time patient advocate, Wiest has been part of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency’s Patient and Family Centred-Care Committee since its inception. “Every patient has a different journey and experiences. All of this experience can be used in one or more RPIWs,” said Wiest, who has assisted Prince Albert Parkland in the formation of a Patient and Family Centred-Care Committee.

“This a chance for patients to have a voice and a hand in changing the way things are done in our Health system. Essentially, if you don’t like something, get in and change it.”
(Ken Wiest, Patient Representative)

“Patients are readily accepted by staff members and are treated as a full member of the team. The experiences and comments of the patient are considered in full and are included in the report-out of the results of the RPIW.”

A volunteer at the Victoria Hospital, Wiest said he was contacted and asked about his interest in participating in a RPIW that would investigate ways to reduce the time it takes to move patients from the Emergency Department to a regular hospital bed.

“I was familiar with this (Lean) process from my working career and I was firmly convinced, even before I started, that this was a good process to use,” Wiest said. He added that Lean has many applications within health care, and will provide a strong base for improving the experience for patients.

“The purpose of RPIWs is to make rapid but closely considered changes to the process of health care delivery. This process also establishes a baseline of a situation, and allows further studies to gauge the degree of change: good, poor, or if it is still the same,” Wiest said. “The only way I know how to improve anything is to change the way you do things right now. Lean is a measurable method of making change. My opinion of Lean has always been favorable and a change in methodology and delivery to improve healthcare is a very desirable and achievable goal.”

Stuart said that the patients participating in the RPIWs or the 3P planning process have helped the team make better decisions.

“They are not the health-care insiders seeing it from a provider perspective,” Stuart said. “They focus the teams on making the system work better for our patients first.”

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