Thursday, March 18, 2010

Grady Health Systems Surgical Service Workflow

At HIMSS I had the opportunity to tour the Surgical Services area of Grady Health System in Atlanta. The visit was facilitated by Centrak and hosted by Hakan Iliken the Director of Anesthesia and Director of Process Improvement. Iliken was an exciting individual who shared his vast knowledge of process design which is rooted in his Industrial Engineering, Software Development, and CEO background. Iliken is in charge of making sure the technology applies and assists the caregivers, patients, and doctors throughout the day. What I found unique about Iliken was his ability to not only look at things through clinical glasses, but also examine it with a business mindset - balancing clinical and business.  The technology implemented was a Centrak RTLS System tied into a Perioptimum tracking board.

According to Iliken - The Goal of the Implementation is to “Improve Surgical Services throughput and productivity by utilizing a system with Real Time Accuracy.” A secondary goal was to "Increase Transparency."

The Primary Goal is “easily” definable – increase utilization, and ultimately increase revenues. Iliken has seen a 10% increase in Utilization during Prime Time. They are mobilizing staff and moving patients more efficiently and effectively, and they are able to identify bottlenecks readily.

One of the key ways that they accomplished documenting efficiency was to utilize the three flexible buttons on the In-touch badge. The way Iliken designed the processes ,which were enabled by the technology, is each button represented the next step in the process – the wow factor in the design is as the badge physically moved into a different area (Pre-OP, OR, PACU, etc) the buttons would change meaning.  Thus, offering extreme flexibility.  For example button 1 (represented by a *) means “Anes ready” in PreOp, in OR it means “Induction Begins”, and in PACU the same button means “Phase 1 Complete”.  To aide in the ease of use color coding was used on the tracking boards in the staff area recording and identifying the patient’s location and specific steps in the process.  Each staff member is provided with a "cheat sheet" that is card sized and fits into the ID badge holder.  In addition, since the button pushes were not tied to a physical item such as a wall it provides for additional future flexibility.

The ability to dissect a process is a powerful tool. Think of it like an assembly line at Ford. Each person in the process touches the product, and with extreme accuracy they can identify where the issue occured. They can also identify if it was a people or process issue.  Can all of this be achieved with RTLS and process design in a hospital? While I am on board with lean and six sigma design and the ability to reduce errors by using strict process – I believe that healthcare at its core is about people helping people. People who are sick and people who are taking care of them – no matter how we try there will always be a people element. Technology is a tool – it’s not always total the answer.  
Stay Tuned for Part Two - The secondary goal, I found most fascinating, probably because of my groupie like appreciation for Paul Levy’s blog. Transparency means no holds bar real data – the truth that bypasses the finger pointing and assumptions.

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Kourtney Govro