Mary Greeley Medical Center, in Ames, Iowa, originally used KaiNexus' continuous improvement software to manage and track their “Rapid Improvement Events” and followup actions. Mary Greeley also worked with a KaiNexus Consultant in a “KaiNexus WorkOut,” in which they implemented dozens of improvements over three months that netted over $800,000 in financial savings, among other benefits.
Mary Greeley already has a great foundation of improvement work, evidenced by their achievement in receiving the “Gold Achievement” recognition through the Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence process.
Mary Greeley's culture of continuous improvement is built on a strong foundation of methodology, leadership, and enabling technology.
Mary Greeley used a KaiNexus Kickoff to jumpstart the spread of Kaizen in their organization with a three-hour interactive class and workshop for leaders and staff. Their leadership commitment was clear when their CEO, Brian Dieter, didn’t just introduce he consultant and leave (as executives at other hospitals so often do). Brian and the CFO, among other senior leaders, stayed and were very engaged the entire time. They were there to learn and to set a good example for others. This was awesome to see, because we know that Kaizen education and practice starts with senior leadership, in terms of learning new behaviors and mindsets that make continuous improvement a reality.
In the workshop, the KaiNexus Consultant talked about core Kaizen principles, including how to work with staff to identify opportunities for improvement, how to respond quickly to engagement, how to resolve the opportunities, and how to emphasize employee recognition. The group did a fun interactive simulation exercise that got everyone out of their seats to improve a process by finding problems, brainstorming ideas, and entering them into KaiNexus to show or remind people how the software works. There was a lot of good discussion about the role of leaders in this process, including how to coach and ask questions instead of giving solutions to your employees, and how to how to be constructive instead of negative when there’s a “bad idea” brought forward.
The participants in the workshop included clinical supervisors and directors from a number of departments, including two areas that were selected to pilot their new daily “Bright Ideas” process that now involved KaiNexus (and other new approaches). This engagement was key, because one of the principles behind the KaiNexus methodology is that most opportunities for improvement are evaluated and implemented within the local department, rather than being submitted to a committee.
Over the next two and a half days, the leaders from a surgical inpatient unit and the materials department worked with their KaiNexus Consultant, Ron Smith (a Mary Greeley Process Improvement Coordinator), and Karen-Kiel Rosser (Mary Greeley's Vice President of Quality). The leaders learned many key mindsets critical for driving the practice of Kaizen and KaiNexus going forward, including:
Every idea is worth bringing forward and discussing, no matter how small
Instead of focusing only on cost savings, find ways to save time and make the work easier for staff, improve quality and safety, or improve the patient experience in some way
Each improvement idea should be acknowledged and discussed promptly
Staff should be empowered (and given time) to research and work on their improvement ideas
It’s important to identify a problem, not just have an idea or suggestion, because the role of leaders is to work with staff to find something that solves the problem, even if the initial idea is not practical for some reason
As the group rounded in the departments, ideas were solicited from many staff members. “Of course I have a lot of ideas,” said one employee in the materials department. In two and a half days, 27 opportunities for improvement were entered in KaiNexus, split just about evenly across the two pilot departments.
The opportunities for improvement that people came up with were small, simple ideas that could be easily implemented. Here are some examples:
A dumpster that is too tall for the space it's in, so staff asked for a dumpster with lower sides
Couriers could use a dedicated parking spot because they waste time searching for a spot each time they return to the hospital
Improving the consistency of bedside meetings
A patient care tech noticed that cords can be messy or tangled in patient rooms, so he suggested a simple, inexpensive cord organizer be purchased for each room (with an initial test on one room first, in accordance with Kaizen principles).
In addition to the rounding, the group also called staff members into a conference room to discuss ideas and interact together in the KaiNexus system.
At the end of each day, a report out was held in the auditorium so senior leaders and other workshop attendees could hear about the progress in the pilot units. Many questions were asked, as many of the leaders from other departments were interested in quickly rolling out this process in their departments - to better engage their staff and to drive more improvement in the new year.
All of this was followed by some strategic wrap up discussions with the process improvement team and hospital leaders to talk about:
Next steps about how to evaluate the work in the pilot departments
How to make adjustments to their approach
How to spread Kaizen and KaiNexus to other departments (including a discussion about how quickly this could be rolled out)
The Mary Greeley Medical Center team reinforced our belief that employees know where the problems and opportunities are in their organization. When we engage them, asking to come up with lots of little ideas that can be easily implemented, we start building enthusiasm and a culture that allows people to then also take on bigger challenges. Since our software is web-based, it’s easy for our consultant to follow their progress and to provide coaching remotely.