How to get to root of operational problems

Although hard data is essential for a process redesign project to succeed, information from interviews can support these numbers, says Jayne Talmage, president of Talmage & Company, an operational work redesign firm in Boston. "Interviews can also help define internal benchmarks and identify best practices."

She offered Patient-Focused Care and Satisfaction a sampling of "auditing"questions that should be explored by senior administration, physicians and department managers:

• How does the patient get from here to there?

• Is the result satisfactory to all affected?

• Does the process make effective use of hospital resources?

• What information technology strategies can be used as a catalyst for improved work flow and decision support at the point of service?

• Are there "time-in-the-system" delays for patients that could be avoided?

• What are the costs associated with these delays?

• In addition to the patient, who is the "user" of the work process?

• Is it the physician or another department?

• What is the most effective process to produce the desired outcome?

• Does the most effective process make the best use of existing resources?

• What time and activity resources need to be tracked to fully document the cost activities involved in each step of the process?

Source: Talmage & Company, Nordwell, MA.