Government and Health Care

Spectrum Health shares improvement process with state

April 25, 2014
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State employees and health care experts gathered at the Capitol in Lansing last week with brown-bag lunches to talk business.

Spectrum Health participated in a Lunch and Learn event sponsored by a state of Michigan department known as the Office of Good Government, part of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.

The Office of Good Government hosted the event that invited experts to share performance improvement techniques with Michigan governmental employees.

Claire Allard, director of Office of Good Government and senior strategy advisor to the governor, said a key element of the state’s strategy to reinvent the government in Michigan is constant improvement.

“We are doing this by working with external partners to build internal capacity, empowering employees to develop and share innovative ideas and solutions, leveraging and promoting best practices across agencies, and measuring, communicating and celebrating successes,” said Allard in the press release.

Kurt Knoth, vice president of performance improvement at Spectrum Health, said the health care organization became involved in the event through its participation in the Michigan Lean Consortium, a nonprofit based near Detroit. According to the press release, the organization is dedicated to spreading lean principles throughout every public and private sector industry in Michigan.

“Somewhere along the way, they got a connection with Gov. Snyder and his administration for helping the state improve the way they do things,” said Knoth in reference to the consortium. “They invite leaders in different industries that are practicing process of improvements to come in and basically give a one-hour talk to their leaders and other folks that are working in government in Lansing.”

During the event, experts from Spectrum Health presented an overview of the Spectrum Health Performance Improvement System and gave examples of outcomes resulting from implementing the principles. According to the press release, SHPIS focuses on patient satisfaction, a teamwork environment and the reduction of non-value added activity, and provides tools for people to improve quality and efficiency in work.

Terry Newell, director of best practice development at Spectrum Health, said the event was well attended, with various department heads and administrators present to hear about the health care improvement system. Some of the departments represented at the event were: Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Michigan Economic Development Corp., Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Department of Community Health and Michigan Department of Education.

According to the press release, SHPIS recently resulted in more than $2.1 million in savings for the 2014 fiscal year for Spectrum Health, and $7.1 million in planned savings. Some of the non-value added activities reduced through the improvement system include: overproducing, transporting, defects, waiting, over-processing and inventory.

Through implementing best practices, the health care system also saw a 64 percent reduction in time spent waiting for a specialist referral, while improving structure in the emergency department reduced wait time.

“I think it was received quite well; a lot of people had questions afterward,” said Newell. “I think it is always important to share. This is hard stuff, and no one knows how to do it perfectly — no one knows the perfect recipe.”

There were several factors that influenced the decision for Spectrum Health to share its improvement process at the event, including the opportunity to showcase the success and expertise the health system has had with it, according to Knoth.

“It’s the right thing to do. We are a nonprofit and part of our stated mission is to give back to the community,” said Knoth. “I think the other part is we’re doing some pretty neat things in terms of processes of improvement that applies to health care, which do apply to other industries. Most of our process improvement folks, myself included, started their careers in manufacturing. So it is kind of neat to do a transfer from a health care organization to the state of Michigan.”

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