NEWNAN, Ga. (Nov. 06, 2009) – More than 75 surgical services leaders across the country recently heard about how Piedmont Newnan Hospital was able to decrease its turnaround times by 30 percent and increase case cart accuracy to 100 percent with a little assistance from Georgia Tech. Pam Murphy, director of surgical services at Piedmont Newnan Hospital, and Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter, a project manager for Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute EI2, presented at a workshop at the OR Manager conference in Las Vegas, Oct. 7. The six-hour workshop, “Implementing Lean in the OR,” explained how operating rooms can facilitate lean projects and, more importantly, how to sustain the improvements.
Lean is the practice of evaluating the steps of a process to determine the cost-value added to a final product or service. It seeks to minimize the resources required for production by eliminating waste that inflates cost and turnaround times, and decreases efficiency.
Piedmont Newnan began working with Georgia Tech in December 2007 with an introduction to lean principles. According to Trapp-Lingenfelter, at least 90 percent of the operating room staff had basic lean training by the end of the project, a critical component of their success. The cross-functional team comprised of nurses, surgical technologists and central service personnel who went to the OR and the central sterilization department to observe the case cart process and note which steps were value-added and which ones involved waste.
“A lot of staff first thought that we were just trying to get efficient so we could eliminate positions. We had to assure them that this was not the case; we just wanted to be as efficient as we can be so we can build the business,” recalled Murphy. “The hard part for an organization is committing the resources, something especially difficult in health care. Once you do that, however, you can attack the issue in one week and come up with solutions.”
As a result of the lean implementation, case carts can now be pulled in five minutes versus 20 minutes and the overall case cart accuracy has risen from 50 percent to as high as 100 percent. Whereas staff would open all supplies prior to this project, they now refer to “do not open” bins, items that may be used in a case but do not need to be opened until that time. The bins have yielded a projected savings of $118,000 annually. Piedmont Newnan has also been able to increase its percentage of on-time procedure starts and decrease after-hours cases.
Through EI2’s Healthcare Performance Group, project leaders work with healthcare professionals to conduct lean assessments, teach basic lean concepts, develop value stream maps to analyze the flow of materials and information, develop quality systems and implement rapid process improvement projects. For more information on healthcare performance improvement services offered by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute, contact Jennifer Trapp-Lingenfelter, Healthcare Performance Group (404-386-7472); E-mail: (firstname.lastname@example.org).