People and process are still the main components in customer satisfaction and overall quality business performance. Many healthcare operations have turned to the continuous improvement methodologies of Lean and Lean Six Sigma to make a difference. And the good news? It’s working. Results from the 2017 HealthLeaders Media Patient Experience Survey Report showed that among healthcare operations that have formally implemented process improvements, 87% reported higher patient satisfaction scores.

Lean Six Sigma for Healthcare

I recently sat down with the leadership team of one our healthcare clients, MaineHealth; Jordan Peck, the Sr. Director of Performance Improvement, Ghassan Saleh, the Director of Operational Excellence, and Abigail Aim, Regional OpEx Program Manager who recently earned her Master Black Belt from Acuity Institute, congratulations Abi!

MaineHealth has implemented the Center of Operational Excellence which oversees the continuous improvement program across all Maine Medical Center campuses. The program includes a lean daily management system, continuous improvement training, project management, and coaching.

The program centers around their Lean Daily Management System. Each day teams in every department gather data and assess performance to key metrics to solve problems in real-time. Every day, leaders visit the front-line teams to hear about progress over the previous 24 hours and help by removing barriers to safe care. This daily management practice engages and empowers all members of their care community to work together in achieving their mission, vision, values, and strategic goals.

Gaining Traction

In sitting down together we discussed the challenges healthcare organizations face in establishing and achieving success with a continuous improvement program. Let’s take a closer look at two key challenges:

  1. Where to start.
  2. Sustainability and maintaining the commitment long term.

Where to Start

I asked Jordan what his advice is for organizations looking to get a program started.

“We’ve had more than 30 healthcare organizations come and visit our program, and one thing I’ve learned is there is no one answer. Here at MaineHealth, we were fortunate enough to have full leadership buy-in from the very beginning. Where we started was identifying academic content and methods that we could roll out. Launching organization-wide was not easy though, it was 3 days of training every month, 3 or 4 departments at a time until we were fully deployed. There can be an advantage to rolling it out slowly, most of the organizations that have visited us have gone on to start with 1 or 2 units. The key is identifying your readiness. Identify where you have leadership support with a leader that will participate every day in reviewing the Daily Lean Management Board, the management is on board, and then define the system and roll it out. Then a month later look to get another department on board.  Along the way communicate and showcase your successes. Over time, it can reach that turning point where the leadership will decide they want it everywhere.”

The Center of Operational Excellence leverages Acuity Institute’s Lean Foundation, Lean Six Sigma White Belt, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and Black Belt certification programs combined with several of their own internally developed online modules and in-person workshops. Leveraging a private, branded campus from Acuity Institute, MaineHealth imported their own online modules, creating a centralized campus for students to log in and complete all their online learning.

In our next blog, we will further discuss my conversation with the MaineHealth team and look at sustainability.

Do you have questions for the MaineHealth team?  We would love to hear from you! Share your questions with me and I will be happy to incorporate them into our next blog.


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