By Dr. David Mishkin, Director of Emergency Medicine Innovation and Amichay Porges, Kaizen Promotion Lead Clinical Facilitator
Most organizations are full of great ideas that haven't been discovered yet – and more often than not, the only thing keeping these ideas from being shared is the lack of a forum to discuss them. One of our core beliefs – both personally and at Sheridan – is that developing systems that allow these ideas to come to the surface can deliver tremendous value for a hospital or health system.
For several years at Sheridan, we've both been using Kaizen events to accomplish this. For those unfamiliar, Kaizen is one of the world's leading process improvement methodologies. Founded on the work of W. Edwards Deming and made famous by Toyota in the 1980s and '90s, Kaizen’s framework provides a collaborative forum for all staff members to identify and implement ways to improve processes and share those insights with the organization. By giving the people who best know a process a voice in its design, Kaizen reliably generates better results than other process improvement efforts which are led from the top-down.
Applying Kaizen to Engagement
The majority of Kaizen events we lead with Sheridan are focused on re-engineering clinical and transactional workflows, such as the flow of patients through an ED. But this methodology could also be applied to less concrete processes as well. Using the resources and experience we have at our disposal, we were able to apply the principles of Kaizen to one of modern Emergency Medicine's most pressing problems: Physician Engagement. Successfully doing so would significantly reduce turnover, which is critical for understaffed specialties like emergency medicine.
This led us to create the Sheridan Emergency Medicine Provider Engagement Project: a new way to use the Kaizen event, specifically designed to act as a catalyst for generating and disseminating great engagement strategies. Attendees flew in from many of our partner hospitals across Sheridan's national provider network, which allowed us to get an extremely broad view of existing engagement strategies. Each attendee was also asked to research innovative and inspirational employee engagement practices from across industries and in organizations outside of medicine so that they could present their findings to the group.
We believed this approach would encourage our team to build on a comprehensive foundation of current best practices that would inform an engagement strategy unique to Sheridan. After setting events in motion, our primary goal was to get out of the way and let our physicians start innovating. This approach was very successful – by giving our physicians time and tools, they were able to generate scores of great ideas, and incorporate them into the comprehensive new strategy for increasing ED physician engagement which was tailored to their needs. Perhaps most importantly, we can now leverage Sheridan's nationwide network of physicians to disseminate our findings as quickly as possible.
We believe the strategic planning phase of the Sheridan Emergency Medicine Provider Engagement Project was very successful. Now our locally based clinical leaders are poised to begin the dialogue with each of our partner hospitals. By encouraging discussions on the local level and giving our partners time to receive and respond to our findings, we hope to strengthen the cooperation between our organizations and further adapt our approach to the distinct needs of each site. Once we have feedback from our ED teams across the country, our next step will be to partner with other hospital based service lines within Sheridan to identify points of synergy and provide them with a platform to kick off their own provider engagement Kaizens. While these departments' staffing concerns may be less acute than ours, they still benefit enormously from having highly engaged physicians on their teams.
If you'd like to learn more about how Sheridan uses Kaizen to empower ED physicians, read our blog on building a more stable emergency department or download our “Evolving Emergency Department” white paper.