“Shadowing” is a very powerful method. In a healthcare setting, we can shadow patients or staff to better understand the “current state” of how healthcare is delivered. This allows us to identify waste and opportunities for improvement. We want to see reality rather than make assumptions about how things work – this is the practice of “going to the gemba” (the place where the actual work is done).
My friend Dr. Ted Eytan has posted a presentation about shadowing that has some great tips and reflections: “Getting the Facts about patient and family experience: Shadowing (presentation).”
One thing I do wherever I go is shadow, to see the experience of the patient and family receiving care, in a medical office.
Why? It doesn't matter what spreadsheets and data “say,” a system works or it doesn't when the customer is receiving the service the way the want, in the shortest amount of time. The only way to know this is to see it first hand. After all, it's what our patients do – they are not consoled by spreadsheets showing good aggregate data when they feel they were just not listened to. See a very sad example of this happening in the slides below.
Ted has posted images of his slides, which include great tips on getting permission from those you are shadowing… showing respect for people rather than invading their gemba. I agree with him that shadowers should not go into the exam room. We're looking for waste, not getting in the way of the value adding work.
Do you have any other “dos” or “don'ts” to share from your shadowing experience? What can you go see today?
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