The coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 10, 2020, and it has disrupted the global health community, sparking immediate concerns for all types of health care organizations.
With more than 130,000 global cases known at the time of publication—and approximately 1,600 of those in the United States—your organization should be asking important questions, including the following:
- Does our health system have a readiness plan?
- Are we prepared for patients and families presenting with symptoms, concerns and questions, and demands for access and treatment?
- Are our teams and facilities equipped for increased pressures around staffing, communication, triage and treatment, and more?
Lean methodologies—an approach to health care that focuses on continuous improvement and long-term success, rather than finding quick fixes—help provide insight into improving patient and staff safety. Our lean health care professionals—including physicians, clinicians, and former health care C-suite administrators—have confronted similar health crises with these practices, including the Ebola scare and the Swine flu, and can guide you through a pragmatic lean approach to help you prepare.
Below, we explore how lean can help your organization combat the coronavirus and establish best practices in the following categories:
Leadership responses and actions will need to vary by level.
During times of increased stress, it's important that leadership stays focused and aligned to support the organization as a whole. Executive leadership should prepare by taking the following actions:
- Formulate a structured leadership response at the highest levels of the organization
- Create a clinical champions team that meets daily and reflects the structured executive leadership response
- Establish an easily accessible information hub for all staff maintained with accurate and timely information, protocols, announcements, and practices
- Make sure that administrator-on-call, incident command, and other critical phone numbers are up to date and readily accessible on this information hub
Leadership at the management level will want to focus on how effectively current processes within the organization are operating, and how they can be improved or amended based on patient influx or other unpredictable events.
With a crisis at hand, leadership will likely have to make many tough decisions in a short period of time. Avoid planning through excessive administrative meetings in conference rooms. Instead, learn by going to the gemba, or the place where the actual work is being done.
Here, leaders can better observe current conditions and practice humble inquiry—the act of asking rather than telling—to more immediately identify issues affecting patient care that require attention. Your leaders will see firsthand how patients move through your system, and how caregivers interact with them.
In addition to observing your people, your leaders will also be able to assess the use of:
By going to the gemba, you can determine what your teams need to do their work most effectively and experience the barriers that get in their way.
We're Here to Help
To learn more about how lean methodologies can help your organization prepare for and manage cases of coronavirus that could present in your health system, or to start testing your preparation process, contact your Moss Adams professional.