INTERVIEW – A private healthcare group in South Africa has carefully studied the unique challenges it faces and customized its approach to improvement accordingly, embarking on a lean journey to better patient care.
Interviewee: Sharon Vasuthevan, Nursing and Quality Executive, Life Healthcare Group.
Lean Institute Africa (LIA): What is Life Healthcare’s approach to quality improvement?
Sharon Vasuthevan: We marry the definition of quality improvement of the Health Foundation: “better patient experience and outcomes achieved through transforming provider behavior and organizations, through using a systemic change method and strategies”. We’ve learned that successful quality improvement combines change with a strategy. In other words, you need to carry out improvement (the change itself), but you also need a standard improvement method that relies on the appropriate tools and techniques (the strategy). We do this while taking into account the specific organizational context to achieve better outcomes.
LIA: How did you get started?
SV: From the outset, we understood that we needed to own the quality improvement process. So, in April 2016, we initiated a Proof of Concept (POC) project. The aim was to define the approach that would equip our staff with good methods and tools for seeking improvement opportunities and implementing these projects – aligning them with the company’s strategic pillars (our True North). To complete the POC we took on three pilot projects in a large and busy hospital to test various approaches, including A3 Thinking, Toyota Kata (a pilot of which is pictured below) and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Improvement Model. For all methods, we used the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle to test improvement recommendations.