Run Your Practice "Lean"
■ According to speaker and author Elizabeth W. Woodcock, M.B.A., C.P.C., proof that physicians need to work on their customer-service skills is found in a statistic she read that says Americans cite visits to doctors' offices as their second most dreaded wait — surpassed only by visits to the DMV. However, she also realizes that "Most physicians are operating with less of everything these days — except paperwork!" How can practices deliver more with less? Woodcock believes the answer lies in "lean thinking." She explains how it can help medical practice in Mastering Patient Flow: Using Lean Thinking to Improve Your Practice Operations, 3rd Edition.
The lean-thinking concept originated with researchers at MIT in their 1990 study of the methods automaker Toyota used to rise to the top. Woodcock applies their findings to medical practice:
► specify value from the standpoint of the customer
► identify all the steps in the process (value stream)
► make the value-creating steps flow toward the customer
It is also about structuring your practice around what the customer/patient, wants, rather than what the business/practice, wants.
And what do patients want? "Patient access is a huge, huge thing on patients' minds," Woodcock says. "When they call a doctor, they want to be seen, they don't want this delay we've built into the system of 3 to 4 months. Will the customer pay for this delay? Does the referring physician find it valuable? Of course not." Her book helps doctors identify why such problems exist in their own practices and offers practical solutions to eliminate them.
Woodcock wrote a third edition of her book to address the expectations of younger generations of patients. "You think about how our more senior generations would sit in a waiting room for 2 hours, then walk into the doctor's office and spend 2 minutes and gladly pay," Woodcock says. "But a 35-year-old is not going to do that." Related to these younger patients is the use of the Internet in medical practice, and the third edition offers strategies for using Web portals and electronic medical records.
Mastering Patient Flow is available through the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives. OM
|If you know of an organization, Web site or other resource that is devoted to healthcare practice improvement, please let us know. Contact René Luthe at: email@example.com or (215) 643-8132.|
Ophthamology Management, Issue: October 2007