Albert Einstein once said, “The best design is the simplest that works.” On the surface, this does not sound like a statement with deep meaning from someone so intelligent. However, with the proper context, we can learn to understand how profound this statement really is.

Our hospital compensation is now tied to how well we meet patient satisfaction goals. The challenge is clear: “Satisfy the patient.” The problem should also be very clear, “Our current process design for achieving 100% patient satisfaction is not working.”

Hospitals around the country are now aggressively responding to this challenge in a variety of different ways. Some are hiring consultants to help leadership align with this challenge. Others are realigning staffing and clinical roles, evaluating and questioning the data systems that collect patient satisfaction and making every effort to target focus areas. Efforts to improve patient satisfaction are also being linked to broad scoping organizational changes such as: Magnet certification, Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), Malcolm Baldrige Award or criteria, Lean, Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement, and a variety of Total Employee Involvement (TEI) programs. In healthcare, it is a veritable cornucopia of change initiatives.

Perhaps the real problem hospitals face around the topic of patient satisfaction is that the process design to deliver patient care in order to exceed patient satisfaction is too complex. It is not simple. There are too many variables to control and the process itself is out of control. Again, let us consider what Einstein said about design. I believe that hospitals will need to fundamentally rethink all of the processes that feed patient satisfaction in order to be successful going forward. This means we reduce complexity, we reduce the number of steps required, we align to patient needs, and we throw out what is not working and do the work in a different way.

There are many tools that can help healthcare organizations leap forward in process design for the future. However, there are none as effective as the tool of 3P (Product, Preparation, Process). The 3P tool is still relatively new and not well known to healthcare. However, it is not a new tool at all. In fact, the tool was introduced in the US in the early 1980’s. The premise behind the tool is rapid design and testing of multiple options with two goals in mind:

  1. Meet the design requirements. In our healthcare example, one requirement might be to achieve patient satisfaction.
  2. Adopt the simplest design that meets the design goals.

The beauty of this tool is that it utilizes the people that work in the processes in order to design the new process. The resulting ownership by the people who work daily in those processes is absolutely overwhelming. There is a sense of hope that emerges as barriers evaporate and what was once seemingly impossible now appears possible.

There is no doubt in my mind that the 3P tool can be utilized to help in a major way as healthcare struggles with the challenges of today and tomorrow. However, 3P is only a tool. It is not a replacement for great leadership that guides and directs the organization toward simplistic process designs that work.

If you are planning a remodel or process redesign, make sure you optimize your resources.  Learn more about the 3P tool in the recently published book, “Lean Led Hospital Design” and see its effectiveness in the case study “Creating Emergency Department Capacity Without Major Expansion.”

Today’s blog was written by Ronnie Daughtry, a Director with HPP.

Ronnie has more than 20 years of professional leadership and management experience deploying Lean and Six Sigma principles and concepts. Ronnie has recently added value to multiple HPP transformational and design projects.  Before joining HPP, Ronnie was Vice President over supply chain consulting for TranSystems Company. Ronnie has also served as Director of Operations for The ACCESS Group (TAG) and he also spent 17 years with the Robert Bosch Corporation holding various leadership and managerial roles in lean, quality, and operations. He is also well versed in Strategy Deployment and Six Sigma Problem Solving at the Black Belt level.
Ronnie holds a Master’s in Management and Organizational Development and a Bachelor’s in Management and Human Relations from Trevecca Nazarene University.
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