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Cost Containment Corner - An ideal hospital

June 03, 2016
UMass Memorial Health Care
From the June 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Eric W. Dickson

The UMass Memorial Health Care management system is built on the foundation of engaging every one of our caregivers every day in improving the quality and efficacy of the care we deliver. All of our caregivers huddle regularly with management to discuss performance in their business unit and provide leadership with valuable feedback on problems they are experiencing and ideas for how wecan improve results. This is embodied in our mantra: “Everyone, Every Day.”

Idea System

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To drive innovation and process improvement we leverage our organizational Idea System to engage everyone in the process of problem-solving as it relates to their individual work areas. All of our caregivers have the ability to raise their hands and tell us how we can work smarter and more efficiently through this system. Over the past 30 months, our caregivers have submitted and had implemented more than 25,000 ideas to help improve not only their day-to-day work situation, but collectively operational efficiency across the health care system.

There are essentially five components to our Idea System: the idea board; idea card; metrics; team huddles; and celebrations. It is essentially a grass-roots program that starts at the unit or departmental level. Each of the 400 business units across the health system have an idea board that serves as the center of its idea program. It also serves as a visual management system where performance metrics are posted so they can see and discuss how they are doing, and their ideas for improving performance.

Our caregivers use the idea card to submit a new idea to the system. The card must contain an explanation of the proposed idea and how it is an improvement over a previous practice. The submitting caregiver’s name and date of submission are also included on the card. Some units number their idea cards for ease of tracking.

Ideas can also be submitted to improve a process beyond the caregiver’s work area and those ideas will be given strong consideration. However, it is important that departments submit ideas that are relevant to their work area because those ideas will have the greatest impact. Each submission should advance the department closer to its team goals or metrics.

We use metrics to measure how well the department is doing in accomplishing its annual goals. Is the department on track or a little behind? Ideas should address ways to stay on target and eliminate barriers in pursuit of reaching departmental metrics for the year. The team huddle is the opportunity for each caregiver to engage colleagues to offer up and discuss new ideas, give updates on ideas in process and discuss barriers, if any, to idea implementation. Teams generally huddle around the idea board and the discussion is designed to be free-flowing and less formal than a staff meeting. Each caregiver is encouraged to participate in the discussion and offer their feedback during the huddle sessions.

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