Batched @ the Hospital

Lean Leap to Health Care #2
(click for Part #1)

by Scott McDuffee

Greeted by a guy in a royal blue volunteer’s jacket, I was directed to the volunteer manager’s office. I remember thinking hospitals seem a lot friendlier when you are not there to be treated for some acute ailment or injury.

I met with the manager of volunteer services; the one I had heard positive things about from the softball parent.We discussed the various opportunities for volunteering. I was forthright in my interest to not only help people but also to observe the inner-workings and challenges of the hospital (I didn’t say “gemba” but I was thinking it).

We concluded that I might be well suited as a “Rounder”. A Rounder, appropriately, is someone who makes rounds. With obvious limitations on actions requiring a medically trained person, these volunteers visit the patients to”: 1) greet them, 2) ask about their experience, 3) ask to help record any challenges they are experiencing. BINGO!

This sounded perfect for my need to learn the language of a hospital as well as begin to mentally apply lean principles to these opportunities. I knew if I went to gemba with a questioning mind, the hospital would speak to me. I was really excited.

The volunteer manager must have recognized my exuberance when she re-emphasized the limitations of my role. I would have to constantly remind myself that I was just a volunteer; I would lose the job if I tried to lead a cross-functional A3 team to solve the biggest problems facing patient care. This aspect would be really challenging after years of being the change agent but I was ready to start.

I filled out the required paperwork assuming this would lead to an assignment to the volunteer schedule. Then, I was told to plan on orientation three weeks away. OUCH! Twenty-one days out seemed extreme; yet, there was an explanation. “Orientations are time consuming so we try to only do them once a month.”

I HAD BEEN BATCHED! Aha! See, I am seeing opportunities already.

Click for Part 3: Networking with Bison and Doctors


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Now Available – The updated, expanded, and revised 3rd Edition of Mark Graban’s Shingo Research Award-Winning Book Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement. You can buy the book today, including signed copies from the author.

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Scott McDuffee

Scott is a Lean Change Leader who has worked in multiple manufacturing sectors. He blogged primarily about his steps taken to investigate switching into healthcare in 2009.

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