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Leap Technologies Inc.

Health Care

Carle Foundation Hospital Accelerates Lean with Rapid Action Teams

Innovative approach engages employees in lean improvement

Published: Monday, March 21, 2011 - 14:12

(Leap Technologies: Naperville, IL) -- On Wednesday, March 23, at the 2011 Congress on Healthcare Leadership, Carle Foundation Hospital’s chief operating officer John Snyder and Beth Edrington, director of internal consulting and performance improvement, will explain how Carle Foundation has used an innovative method for engaging nurses, technicians, and other employees to capture operating-cost savings while building leadership skills and employee morale. The key to their success is a small-team improvement process developed by Leap Technologies Inc. that gets hospital employees productively engaged in eliminating waste, implementing best practices, and solving problems without the need for extensive upfront training, expert support, or time off the floor. 

Rapid action teams, as they are called at Carle Foundation, supplement the hospital’s lean projects aimed at redesigning core patient-care processes, and focus on taking waste out of the multitude of behind-the-scenes support processes that hospitals rely on to deliver care, such as facilities management, supplies ordering and inventory management, work-force scheduling, performance reporting, equipment maintenance, and hiring.

Carle Foundation’s initial deployment of four rapid action teams produced annualized cost savings of more than $250,000 for a five times return on investment. The 28 employees participating on the teams were able to complete their team assignments while continuing to perform their normal duties. What makes this “low burden” approach to lean improvement work are brief weekly meetings and individual assignments to test and implement cost-savings ideas during a 60-day time period.

Rapid action teams are supported with a structured and easy-to-use tool kit that guides employees in putting their ideas into action while learning basic lean principles and tools. “Hospitals are busy places and the rapid-action approach, with its system of short team meetings, learn-as-you-go tools, and individual assignments fit our requirements perfectly,” says Edrington.

Carle Foundation has expanded its deployment of rapid action teams into other departments, tackling problems such as patient-fall prevention and supply costs from surgical supplies to services contracts. In some cases results have far exceeded expectations, as demonstrated by a team of nurses who designed and implemented staff-friendly but disciplined procedures to ensure nurses end their shifts on time, resulting in savings of more than $500,000 on an annualized basis from reduced overtime hours.

For more information on rapid action teams for accelerating lean health care in hospitals, including white papers, deployment options, and additional case studies, visit www.improvefaster.com.


About The Author

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Leap Technologies Inc.

Leap Technologies Inc. operates through a network of independent consultants trained in Leap’s proprietary Fast-Change Approach, which integrates best practices from lean, innovation, and Six Sigma with state-of-the-art instructional design to accelerate process and performance improvement through people. Leap’s research-based, widely tested Fast-Change Toolkits productively engage leaders and employees in “Lean Thinking and Doing” while also building internal capability to sustain the gains. Leap Technologies has perfected a five-step road map for accelerating completion and results of virtually any improvement initiative in 60 to 90 days. Visit www.improvefaster.com for more information.