Continuous Transformation through Process Improvement at UHealth
The Process Improvement Team at the University of Miami Health System is a group of professionals with backgrounds in Lean, Six Sigma and project management. Process improvers lead projects, support improvement initiatives, advise process improvement leaders, and teach process improvement methods, tools and techniques.
“We exist to continually improve our patient, faculty and staff experience by fostering a culture of quality and improvement,” said Germán Rueda, FACHE, executive director of process improvement (PI). “Our team has the privilege to engage in work that’s advancing UHealth’s continuous journey to high-quality, high-value, patient-centered care. Over the past five years PI projects have positively impacted operational, financial, and quality performance.”
Rafic S. Warwar, associate dean and chief operations officer, now oversees the PI team and will be guiding improvement initiatives for the health system. “Improvement work is critical to our success,” he said. “We know from past experience that the most successful projects are done in partnership with faculty and staff, when teams are engaged and eager to offer their ideas and expertise to help drive improvements.”
Brianne Neuburger, senior project manager, is organizing UHealth’s first “Process Improvement Showcase” scheduled to take place in late May. It will be open to all faculty and staff who want to display their process improvement projects and experiences. “Our goal is to highlight and display the great PI work done by our faculty and staff from across the system,” Neuburger said. “We want to share success stories, lessons learned, and demonstrate that anyone can do PI; the methods and tools are universal.”
The PI team works collaboratively throughout the health system with multiple cross-functional teams across clinical and non-clinical areas. Project teams develop and implement solutions by drawing upon specialized knowledge and skills in the mathematical, physical and social sciences together with the principles and methods of engineering analysis and design.
“The PI team has designed an internal improvement methodology and has begun training faculty and staff,” Neuburger said. With the tools and techniques taught in the continuous improvement training sessions, the team then engages staff through project work in their areas.
“We’ve seen some people really embrace the PI mindset, and it’s very rewarding to see them independently start PI projects to improve their areas,” Rueda said. “One of our key goals is to enable and empower everyone to continuously improve their workplace.”
One important health system project addressed the reporting of critical results in anatomic pathology — a challenging process because it involves tight turnaround times and requires quick communication between pathology and providers from across the system. A cross-collaborative team with participants from IT, pathology, primary care and process improvement used a combination of Lean and project management to develop a new and improved process.
Another successful project was recently completed in the Patient Financial Services Department, which was experiencing a 19 percent call abandonment rate. The team used Six Sigma’s DMAIC — define, measure, analyze, improve, and control — methodology and process improvement tools to address the issue. “As a result, the team achieved their goal of reducing the call abandonment rate to less than or equal to 5 percent,” said Roderick Parker, senior project manager.
Another success story of the Process Improvement Team is the analysis of the operations and reorganization of the primary care faculty practices (General Internal Medicine and Family Medicine.) The team worked closely with the faculty and administrative team of these faculty practices to address challenges, enhance efficiencies and optimize patient flow and space utilization.
“The team successfully redesigned the intake and room assignment processes, optimized how the space was utilized, and with the support from clinician leaders, staff, and administrators, the team was able to increase the number of completed appointments by 18 percent,” said Andres Ramirez, senior project manager. Consequently, the clinics have also seen significant improvements in revenue generation.
Through these and other projects, the process improvement team is working to create a culture of continuous improvement, which will help UHealth:
• Deliver high-quality, high-value, patient-centered care.
• Deliver continuous improvement training to faculty and staff.
• Engage staff through improving and enhancing daily work via meaningful process changes.
• Collaborate to identify opportunities for improvement and develop thoughtful and impactful plans to implement suggested solutions.
For more information on the team, their services, training and the showcase, please visit: https://miamiedu.sharepoint.com/sites/UHealthPI.