The price tag was $3.5 million. For a renovation that would allow for an additional 3,000 surgeries a year and for a leading hospital with gross patient services revenue of $709.5 million, $3.5 million wasn’t going to break the bank.
But it was still $3.5 million. And, in the end, it was $3.5 million that Akron Children’s Hospital didn’t have to spend.
The renovation was proposed for the sterile processing department, the place where surgical instruments are sterilized. The department just couldn’t support the increased demand that was asked of them. Naturally, when that happens, the first thoughts turn to either more employees or maybe more space. Akron Children’s had the same thought.
But before it brought out the hammers, it asked members of the department and of the hospital’s Lean Six Sigma team to review the problem. Turns out, a simple redesign of the processes and space solved the problem. No space added, no employees added, and $3.5 million saved. Think about it, that’s only one problem. Imagine if you had all of your employees thinking that way.
Now, Akron Children’s President and CEO William Considine does.
“We’re going to them and saying, ‘You know your work better than anybody. We want to empower you and give you the resources to look at ways to improve your efficiencies,’” Considine says. “And they love being a part of it.”
Akron Children’s has always had a commitment of continuous improvement in services and efficiency. That commitment led the pediatric hospital to start implementing Lean Six Sigma two and a half years ago.
Along with the processes and methodologies, Considine realized Lean Six Sigma is also about enhancing your culture, engaging employees and empowering them to improve.
“We all know that culture eats strategy every day,” he says. “You can have the best strategy in the world, but if you don’t have a good culture, you’re going to have a hard time implementing that strategy. Lean Six Sigma is a real investment in culture. It communicates to your people that you really value them and what they do.”
Here’s how Considine equates Lean Six Sigma and employee empowerment to produce efficiency.