The 8 Milestones of Patient Throughput: How a “Production System” for Care Always Puts the Patient First

Originally published in the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association (SFHHA) July 2016 Issue of South Florida Hospital News.

By Karl Straub

By Karl Straub

We think a lot about milestones in healthcare. The major milestones now are the shift from volume- to value-based care and the evolution to community health management. These healthcare milestones change everything about the way hospitals operate, provide care and succeed financially. So how do hospitals thrive in this evolution? By embracing bold thinking and adopting production system culture, processes and tools that deliver exceptional care to happy patients at the lowest costs.

Let’s consider the milestones of care delivery that define and measure efficient, quality care and an excellent patient experience:

To complete these milestones for all patients under care as efficiently as possible, people and departments must work in harmony, not isolation and conflict. This becomes challenging with simultaneous high demand for limited resources across the hospital.

The solution lies in the hub-and-spoke production system principles of other industries. Consider the logistics that delivery companies use to ensure that your package arrives on time, or that manufacturers use to deliver the right number of quality products exactly when they're needed. The same principles apply and succeed robustly in hospital care coordination.

Patients are where they're expected to be for timely treatments and services. People and resources are available exactly when needed to advance all patients’ care plans. Beds and rooms are ready when needed. Transport is on time. Caregivers and patients have a clear and reliable itinerary for services and care. Communication and coordination are seamless. And hospital executives have accurate, live information they can act on quickly to ensure prompt, quality care.

SFHHA member Holy Cross Hospital partnered with Atlanta-based associate member Care Logistics to adopt this “production model” for care delivery. Holy Cross CEO Dr. Patrick Taylor shares some of the results:

“We’ve been able to take about half a day out of the length of stay. That is significant in terms of the patient’s experience. It is the air traffic control system that allows us on a dayto-day, hour-by-hour basis to know where our patients are, what’s the next step in their care pathway and what’s the quickest, most efficient, most quality way to accomplish that next step.”