For those outside of the medical field, acronyms and medical terminology such as Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) might sound confusing, but the truth is, tackling these processes and achieving standards can be a bit daunting for people who live and breathe medicine every day too.
In the spring of 2011, Margaret Lewis, practice manager for Partners in Family Health, had just returned from a PCMH conference in Philadelphia when she learned about Aligning Forces for Quality-South Central PA’sPatient-Centered Medical Home Collaborative, which brings together practices and business coaches to focus on key performance measures. Through PCMH, patients receive accessible, continuous, comprehensive and integrated care from their primary care provider.
“Our biggest hope was that they would help us implement this new care concept in our practice,” said Margaret. “We have a large diabetic population, and the Collaborative had processes in place for waste reduction, going lean and standardizing procedures. We were really excited!”
Just a short time later, Matthew Metz, a Six Sigma Deployment Champion and Energy Coordinator for SKF, a Hanover-based manufacturer of bearings and products related to seals and lubrication, joined Partners in Family Health as a business coach.
“SKF was contacted to participate in this collaborative effort to coach a practice using lean concepts to improve favorable outcomes,” explained Matthew. “We were anxious to join the Collaborative. It gave us the opportunity to be a good corporate citizen among the community and share tools, such as lean 6 Sigma and business excellence, outside of the normal boundaries of our business to the medical community.”
With all parties a bit apprehensive and excited, the partnership began in March 2011.
“From a clinical perspective, I was somewhat reluctant to accept the leadership from Matthew,” admitted Sharon Simpson, RN and Quality Improvement Coordinator for Partners in Family Health. “However, as time went on, the staff was able to see the benefits of all of the processes we were putting in place. The partnership gave us the ability to address problems from a more systematic and scientific method, correct them and then measure improvements.”
The changes all worked to improve patient care, whether altering methods of patient outreach or modifying internal workflow to create efficiencies.
For example, through the process, the practice determined that many of their diabetic patients were not receiving eye examinations on an annual basis. The staff added this as a new measurement criterion and devised ways to ensure compliance.
Additionally, the practice implemented the process of calling patients after they were discharged from the hospital or Emergency Department visits and gathered all of their medical record updates in advance of appointments at Partners in Family Health.
“The patients really appreciate that we are making that personal contact, working to assist with any challenges and trying to get them seen within the first week of transition from the hospital,” said Sharon. “We never did that before joining the Collaborative, and we’ve received great feedback.”
Implementing this routine has also been very beneficial to clinicians, as the staff isn’t wasting time gathering further medical documentation. The doctors can spend more time with each patient, and patients also feel like the staff is truly engaged in their care.
Preeti M. Murudkar, MD, echoed this response saying, “Our patients feel like they are not just a number. They are part of a team and part of our family.”
In addition to the direct patient changes, the practice also improved many efficiencies related to practice management and care delivery, including correcting 24 of the 32 waste-reduction items identified by all employees.
The staff also worked closely with Matthew to employ the Kanban System, a manufacturing supply chain process to manage medical supply inventories. Partners in Family Health now saves time and money by knowing exactly when to order supplies and doesn’t need to keep excess on hand.
“We also employed 5S methodology, which looks at a given area to determine how everything could be organized for efficiency, to restructure the medical supply closet,” explained Matthew. “There is now a precise place for each item, and people don’t waste time fumbling or looking for supplies.”
“From a clinical standpoint, one of the most important resources that we have is time. By identifying waste areas in our workflow, whether it was obtaining supplies or documentation, we were able to free up time for clinicians and providers to spend with patients and improve the care that we give them.“
While the process of obtaining PCMH certification continues to push all staff members to strive for excellence, Partners in Family Health is grateful to have had Matthew on their team until the coaching period came to an end in May 2012.
As Sharon sees it, “When we first looked at all of the various processes we had to have in place to achieve PCMH certification, we thought, how are we going to do it? Matthew’s instruction on how to itemize everything, eliminate waste product, organize our time and utilize all members of the staff has been wonderful. We don’t feel that pressure now. Everything has a system, and the nursing staff gets great feedback from the patients. We’re not just a doctor’s office anymore, we’re a family.”
Matthew’s work also was recently recognized by his company, as SKF honored him with the prestigious Excellence Award, presented on April 19 at a ceremony in Slottsviken, Sweden.
Congratulations to Matthew, and thank you again for all that you do! To learn more about how to become a business coach, contact Rush Gross at 717-851-6859