Governance structure, organizational culture, strategic planning processes, and decision-making procedures are some of the key elements of organizational design (Dubbs and Browning). To convert an organization into a process-centered one it is important that major changes in the organizational design is undertaken to improve productivity. The improvements undertaken by Stanford University Hospital provide an example of the effectiveness of a process-centered organization in improving patient service. The organization formed a Patient-Centered Care Team that looked at all the aspects in the process of the hospital’s service to the patients from admission until discharge. The processes were looked at from the patients’ point of view to provide improvements.
Separate process management teams were formed to study the admission, provision of laboratory support, managing patient care, provision of diagnostic and treatment support, and managing complaints. The teams comprised of members having professional experience and the team identified several areas for further improvements. Some of the areas include
- patient transport,
- clarification of physician’s orders, and
- turnaround time of reports to physicians (Hollnader, Gunderson and Mechanic).
With the planned improvements in the patient-centered efforts, another move to decentralize the support services was also undertaken. This major process change helped the hospital to improve the patient satisfaction rating. One of the areas where process change took place is the delivery of supplies to the individual units. Since patient treatments were delayed due to the time delay in delivering the supplies from the centralized units, provision was made for a mini-supply room in each floor speeding up the delivery of the supplies to the units. The delivery was controlled by a computerized inventory and tracking system that facilitated the quick delivery of supplies.
Another important structural shift undertaken by the team was to merge the housekeeping and transportation personnel. These services were decentralized to cater to the requirements of each unit. Support Service Assistants were assigned to each unit. The responsibility of these assistants is to look after the transportation needs and maintain the units. The Support Service Assistant was also made responsible for cleaning the patient’s room and for taking the patient to x-ray and delivering meals (Hollnader, Gunderson and Mechanic).
This process change has resulted in significant improvements in patient care. By personalizing the services, the number of people the patients have to interact with in a day has been reduced to the minimum. The Support service assistants were also satisfied with their services to the patients. By elimination another layer of supervision, there were significant savings in costs. However, the introduction of this process change of assigning a support service assistant to the individual units had some challenges to be faced. Since the nurse, managers had no previous training in handling this level of personnel they had to be provided with the necessary training to hire and supervise the support service assistants.
The other steps taken by the team included
- educating the staff on the different methods of effective process management especially on the importance and handling of complaints from the patients
- continuing to manage the enormous amount of data available to the process management teams,
- devising reward plans and
- integrating patient-centered care activities with process management (Hollnader, Gunderson and Mechanic).
Dubbs, N L and S L Browning. “Organizational design consistency: The PennCARE and Henry Ford Health System experiences / Practitioner application.” Journal of Health Care Management 47.5 (2002): 307.
Hollnader, Sharon Flynn, Laurel Gunderson and Jody Mechanic. Process improvements boost patient satisfaction and quality at Stanford University Hospital. 1994. Web.