Getting back on track: St. George & Sutherland Hospitals

Getting back on track

After some notable early successes, these two hospitals found that the benefits derived from Lean improvement projects had started to fade.

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Getting back on track

The challenge

Under pressure to meet new government targets on waiting times in the Accident & Emergency department, in 2010, Director of Operations, Cath Whitehurst asked KPMG to help her teams regain their momentum as they entered an intense period of project work that also involved Orthopaedics, Neurology, Pharmacy and general stores.

The journey

Over a period of 4 months, each LEAD team member received around 6 hours a week direct coaching on issues such as business process improvement, Lean principles, change management and stakeholder management.

In addition, periodic workshops covered essential areas such as strategic thinking, communications, conflict management and presentation skills, all of which helped members become more effective at change management and Lean implementation.

One key objective was to infuse performance methodology into teams largely unfamiliar with such concepts; the majority of staff are now using these techniques on a daily basis.

The response was excellent, with the teams showing incredible commitment and dedication, as Cath Whitehurst notes: “The coaching allowed everyone to feel they had a positive contribution to make, which increased their sense of ownership. People are now thinking more carefully about efficiency, waste and duplication.”

Success to date

Results to date have been exceptional, with over US$2 million in annual savings, gained from shorter patient waiting times, reduced average lengths of stay, greater availability of beds and faster movement of inventory necessitating lower stock levels.

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The early achievements of applying Lean principles to healthcare have been useful.

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