Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Change is a Learning Process

Winning organizations recognize the importance of learning. Companies that don’t learn new ideas don’t change to meet the demands of those they serve. When an organization doesn't change to meet new demands, it eventually fails. That is why we set aside time for learning.

Last Thursday, GBMC leadership had a marvelous day of learning with our teachers from Next Level Partners who taught us about focused problem solving to get better execution of meaningful change.

The former President of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Dr. Don Berwick, says there are three important factors required for improvement:
1. The will to change
2. Ideas
3. Execution

I have no doubt that at GBMC our people want to change. They embrace our vision of providing the care that we would want for our own loved ones to every patient, every time. We have the will to change.

I know that GBMC has a workforce made of many intelligent individuals with great ideas to improve our processes. I also know that with the Internet, many solutions are just a few clicks away. So, there is no lack of great ideas.

Our dilemma is number 3: execution. Healthcare in general has not been particularly good at executing change. Many healthcare service processes haven’t changed much since the mid twentieth century. Many companies have unwittingly instilled the notion into their people to hold on to the status quo, and to learn to deal with systems that don’t work, rather than getting them the idea that not only is it their right to fix broken systems – it is their duty.

We are implementing Lean Daily Management to change this. Since we started this technique last April, our senior team visits departments and units every day. On our daily walk, members of the unit and department teams tell us about the performance of key indicators from the day before. They tell us about the reasons why goals were missed and about their problem solving to improve the process.

A great example of excellent problem solving can be seen in the work done by both the Emergency Department and inpatient unit teams, including doctors, nurses and techs, with the help of housekeepers and transport aides, to move patients more quickly from the ED and into a hospital bed. We have reduced the time in the ED of patients admitted to the hospital by more than two hours.

So, our friends at Next Level Partners taught us more of the science of improvement to help us execute faster. It was a great day of learning for GBMC leaders. Such offsite trainings make us stronger as an organization and make our people more skilled. We all came back to work more inspired and better prepared to move us faster toward our vision.


  1. I certainly agree that change is a learning process and I am 100% in favor of change. However, when I read the kudos that were given to the ED Department and inpatient unit teams, I was a bit taken aback because Patient Access Reps both in the ED and the Admitting Area of the hospital play a lead role in getting these patients registered with the correct insurance information so they can be transported to the units as well as ensuring that the hospital gets paid when we enter the correct insurance information. Perhaps, we may have been overlooked. Thank you.

    Lillian Sawyer
    Patient Access Representative - Certified

  2. Thanks, Lillian. I am very grateful for the outstanding work of our patient access reps. I did not mention them in the blog because the bottlenecks and therefore the improvements were "downstream" from their work. Thanks for reminding me what a great job our patient access representatives do.


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