American College of Healthcare Executives - Middle Tennessee's inaugural early morning event entitled "Making Sense of Performance Transformation Methodologies" was held earlier this summer at Belmont University. Attendees were inspired by Marshall Leslie, president of Healthcare Performance Partners who opened the event with a discussion on the most popular models for process improvement in practice today, along with their potential pitfalls and processes to make them "stick." The methods highlighted by Leslie were Six Sigma, Lean, CAP, and Agile.
One of the biggest challenges of any process improvement methodology is avoiding activity strictly for activity's sake. According to Leslie a clear purpose or goal must be put in writing before beginning the process, a concrete way to quantify improvements must be developed, and someone must be assigned to own the improvements. He emphasized the need to think broadly and not focus your efforts so much that you lose focus of the big goal.
The panelists for this event - Deborah Lumpkin, chief nursing officer at Maury Regional Health; Sharon Hickman, vice president, Performance Improvement at Tristar Health; and Andrea Cleeton, vice president, Operations Improvement at LifePoint Health - offered their experiences and insight on the topic of performance transformation.
The panelists emphasized the importance of identifying someone to take ownership of the performance improvement project and expanded on that idea, stating that this key person must be on the front lines and living with the process every day. The group agreed the administration and the owner of the improvement project must be willing to stay the course because there are sure to be many challenges along the way. It was mutually agreed upon, however, that the big rewards at the end outweighed all of the challenges along the way. A key factor in reaching the rewards at the end of the process was the ability to continue learning and being able to adapt to a continually changing environment.