Many of us want to completely forget 2020, which was filled with pain, loss, and uncertainty. But there were lessons to be learned. We need to learn from the mistakes of the past year and change for the good to avoid such systemic failures in the future.

The dreadful nature of 2020 has reminded us all that we need to be in control of our future. We need to produce our own supply chain, developed for a long shelf life and a rapid delivery system in a crisis. We need to separate inpatient and outpatient care and services appropriately to ensure this ongoing pandemic does not consume precious resources while depriving others of ongoing elective care.

We have been working on a surgery center that is about to open in California that the investors named “Kaizen Surgery Center.” The word “kaizen” is Japanese and can be translated as “improvement” or “change for the better.” It also refers to a systematic approach that can give rise to a healthy work culture. Each employee ensures improvement of all processes and systems for the organization. Kaizen follows one basic principle: “Change is for good.”

There are five basic parts:

  • Seiri = Sort. Employees should sort material intuitively. Label items as not needed now, necessary, important, critical, useless, most important, and so on. Discard useless material and set aside items not needed now. Be sure to place items considered most important and critical in safe areas.
  • Seition = Organize. Employees waste too much time looking for important documents and items. Each item should be placed in its designated space and stored there only.
  • Seiso = Shine the workplace. Maintain a clean workspace. Declutter. Store necessary documents in proper files. Use drawers and cabinets for storage.
  • Seiketsu = Standardization. Every organization must set standard policies and rules to ensure top quality.
  • Shitsuke = Self-discipline. Employees must respect the organization’s policies and adhere to them. Self-discipline is vital. When employees follow work procedures and policies, they are filled with respect and pride for the organization.

In other words, by focusing on continuous small improvements, kaizen can help produce immediate results.

Our eyes are open now to our own inadequacies and failures to focus on the little things that can cause problems or lead to improvements. I am so tired of negativity that I am going to opt for making great improvements in the new year.

(Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Address: 5114 Balcones Woods Drive, Suite 307-203, Austin, TX 78759. Phone: (512) 297-7575. Fax: (512) 233-2979. Email: Web: Instagram: Earnhart.Associates.)