In the lead up to the Lean Summit Africa 2018 taking place at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town from 30 October to 1 November 2018, invited speaker and CEO of Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH), Dr Bhavna Patel, talks about her hospital’s experience in implementing the Lean Management System for improved quality and patient outcomes.

As part of the Summit, on 30th October Dr Patel will be leading a half-day Gemba Walk at GSH where delegates will have the opportunity to observe how lean is being applied across GSH and engage with Dr Patel about her strategy of implementing and sustaining the lean improvement process.  

When I was appointed the CEO of GSH just over five years ago the hospital faced a number of challenges that negatively affected the quality of care being provided to patients. The challenges ranged from long waiting lists for clinics and procedures to the capacity of the management to deal with these issues.

As the newly appointed CEO, my main focus was to build the leadership capacity of the management team. I therefore looked at implementing a lean improvement process that would not only reduce the waiting time in one of the largest clinics, but would also build the capacity of the multidisciplinary team involved in the process. For this to be successful, we had to ensure that team was effectively trained in the lean methodology to ensure that they could sustain the programme and teach others the methods they used.

GSH and lean

Lean was introduced to GSH before I became CEO, but before I came on board the projects were short-lived, and the results were not sustained, because the project manager did not remain part of the process.

The decision to implement lean under my supervision was based on the lessons learnt from before and on reviewing the successes that were achieved by Dr John Toussaint in the Wisconsin group of hospitals. Our programme was enriched by the lessons expressed in his book ‘Management on the Mend’ and the subsequent book ‘Beyond Heroes’ by his COO (now Catalysis CEO), Kim Barnas – who will be a keynote speaker at Lean Summit Africa 2018.

At the start of the project, we required expert assistance and recruited the Lean Institute Africa (LIA) to provide this. They set in place very specific stipulations to ensure the sustainability of the programme and to ensure continuous results were achieved. Director at the LIA, Dr Anton Grutter, has been instrumental in shaping the progress of the programme over the years and has assisted GSH to build capacity and develop a home-grown system based on lean principles that we have now managed to roll out throughout the hospital as a GSH system. We have called it the Groote Schuur Performance System or GPS. We owe all of our successes to Dr Grutter and his team for their passion, patience and persistence in guiding us.

Gemba Walk

As part of the upcoming Lean Summit Africa 2018 I’ll be taking delegates on a Gemba Walk where my staff and I will describe the ups and downs of the journey that we as GSH have been on and show them how this process has helped us grow and benefitted our patients.

We will demonstrate how simple this can be if there is commitment to improvement at all levels. We have combined this with a leadership development programme, which is also home-grown, that has assisted the managers in their work. Since its inception, we have now reached the stage where we are able to say that we can institutionalise this as a process of continuous improvement at GSH. As part of the Gemba Walk, we will show how this works in the teams at the frontline, and the delegates will also have an opportunity to engage the staff to see for themselves how the system has impacted on their work environment and staff morale.

I’m very excited to share the progress we have achieved with Summit delegates and to demonstrate that with dedication and commitment, any public healthcare facility can improve efficiency and quality of care.

The Lean Summit Africa 2018 will be taking place from 30th October to 1st November 2018 at The Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town. More information about the event can be found here.

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