By Caroline Ucherek – Managing Director
At the recent AMA conference Starting in Private Practice I was inspired by the presentation given by AMA President Dr Kean-Seng Lim entitled “Starting in Private Practice – Planning and Sustainability”.
Dr Lim’s presentation resonated with me as it focused on aspects of private practice that are often overlooked. In fact, many parts of his presentation mirrored our own company’s approach when looking at best practice when marketing medical businesses. I agree with Dr Lim on healthcare’s paradigm shift from the “Reactive Patient” to the “Proactive Consumer” and believe understanding and taking action with this focus is pivotal in medical practices realising a healthy bottom line.
Part of Dr Lim’s presentation quoted from W Edwards Deming the initiator and leader of ‘Total Quality Control’ (TQC) which changed Japan from being a poorly considered manufacturer of cheap junk to one of the leading powers in technology development. Deming’s mantra was “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
TQC has undergone significant improvements in its own right to what is now, its current iteration of Lean Six Sigma which still has Process Improvement at its centre.
Why is Process Improvement Important?
The term “process improvement” sounds straightforward enough: Make processes better through some form of change.
But the effort involved in enhancing business processes can be complex, depending on the processes that need to be improved. With process improvement, organisations identify, evaluate and improve their existing processes on a proactive basis.
“If an organisation is not continuously improving the way it performs processes, it will likely fall behind in the market.”
That’s because at least some if not all its competitors will be making improvements. Succeeding in today’s medical business environment means constantly looking for ways to do things better.
Reaping the Benefits
Processes that do not work can lead to numerous problems:
- Customers (patients) might complain about poor product quality or bad service
- Team members get frustrated
- Work might be duplicated or not completed at all
- Costs can increase
- Resources might be wasted
- Bottlenecks can develop, causing teams to miss deadlines
On the other hand, process improvement can lead to many benefits that can have a direct positive impact on a medical business’s performance.
Types of Processes to improve
Any type of business process can be improved, from the most strategically important to the most mundane. Processes can be formal or informal.
Those processes considered formal, which are also known as procedures, are documented and have well-established steps.
Formal processes are especially important when they involve anything having to do with employee or patient safety, legal issues, financial considerations, and other critical or sensitive functions. In these cases, it’s important to follow particular steps.
Informal processes, on the other hand, are those more likely to be created by individuals or groups within organizations to complete certain tasks. They might not involve written instructions but are nevertheless important for achieving goals.
The different kinds of processes have one thing in common: They are all designed to streamline the way individuals and teams work. “When everyone follows a well-tested set of steps, there are fewer errors and delays, there is less duplicated effort, and staff and customers feel more satisfied,” MindTools says.
Lean Six Sigma is a tool utilized by some of the world’s leading organisations and has led to their achieving strong market share, but it is also readily adaptable to any medical business.
How can we help?
If you want to take your business to a new level, ask us about Lean Six Sigma. Give us a call 1300 941 250.