Periods with long waiting times, stressed staff and many disruptions – these were everyday occurrences at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry at Roskilde County Hospital. A new initiative combining Lean and Human Factors has helped the department restore job satisfaction and high levels of service.
Work is being done in the Human Factors area to improve safety, quality and efficiency, including the reduction of errors. Human Factors has roots in psychology and the knowledge of how people think and act in interplay with other people, technology, procedures and the surrounding environment.
FORCE Technology's Lean expertise has helped the Department of Clinical Biochemistry to get a less stressed working day.
Just a one-day survey of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry was enough to reveal that procedures and actual work processes were out of step. Staff were often disturbed by patients who could not find their way around the department because of the poor signposting. Moreover, the staff’s own internal communications and work organisation were risk factors for patient safety and were causing stress and confusion.
Working in peace and quiet with a good grasp
Frequent daily interruptions to the work of staff is not just disturbing, it also puts staff safety procedures and work memory under pressure.
Therefore, part of FORCE Technology’s proposed solution for the department was the introduction of an “answer-man” among staff to whom professional questions could be addressed, leaving the rest of the personnel to get on with their work in peace and quiet.
At the same time, discretion lines have been introduced both in front of the secretary's desk and the sample taking cubicles, so staff now have much more time to work without interruption.
Shorter lead times – improved safety
In order to obtain a grasp of patient throughput, the FORCE Technology Lean consultant trained staff to perform value stream mapping. When mapping the value stream of a patient process, the time patients spend in the department is divided into time of value to the patient and time when the patient is waiting and perceives no value.
Value stream mapping clearly shows the time wasted in the present patient process and the knowledge obtained was applied to establishing an alternative patient process with a view to reducing patient throughput times.
Embedding enhancement initiatives using Lean processes
The object of working with the Lean tool is for all staff to contribute ideas for improvements at their workplaces and to then implement them.
With the help of FORCE Technology, the staff of the Department of Clinical Biochemistry now have the tools needed with which they can do further work on reducing patient lead times and improving patient safety.
“The process has changed our approach to work processes in many ways. In particular, we now focus more on patient perceptions of sample taking. In future, we expect to control the various patient groups individually, both in order to give our staff more peace and quiet and in order to reduce waiting times for patients,” says departmental bio analyst Lis Nielsen.