Healthcare systems are full of waste. Full stop. There’s no arguing. It doesn’t even warrant a debate. You only have to attend an outpatient clinic, drop in for a blood test, pitch up to the Emergency Department or try to make a follow-up appointment to experience it. Worse still, accompany a relative to hospital and just observe!
Just look for one waste and concentrate on that; take ‘waiting’ for example. You’ll soon be ‘sick’ yourself – of watching the second hand tick away!
‘Waiting’ is endemic of piss poor processes. And healthcare systems are great at making patients do it!
Being a patient in a hospital bed is worse still! You’ll wait for diagnosis: “the radiologists hasn’t reported the x-ray yet,” “the pathology department haven’t uploaded your results yet,” “the cardiologist’s busy in theatre…,” You’ll wait for treatment: “the therapy department don’t work weekends”, “the oncologist doesn’t plan radiotherapy until Monday,” “we only do general anaesthetic cases every second Wednesday”….yada yada yada…And if you thought it was difficult getting into the hospital, try getting out! - You’ll wait for discharge: “your meds are not back from pharmacy yet,” “transport haven’t arrived yet,” “the nurse hasn’t sorted your take home dressings yet”….
We’ve become so used to waiting for basic treatment that we accept we’ll have to hang around a while for our healthcare. Things must change. Expectations are rising. Kids of today are more demanding and the kids of tomorrow just won’t stand for it!
The biggest problem we will have is a generation completely unused to ‘waiting’ as instantaneous information is carried in their pocket and accessible via the mere swipe of a digit! Better still, their text communication is short and sweet, usually abbreviated and cleverly acronymic.
With broadband speeds of 28Mb taken for granted, to them, ‘waiting’ is the hardest waste of all to tolerate – in fact, they CBA – or conversationally, “ceebs” – they just Can’t be A***’d and will walk their feet elsewhere for treatment!
All hope isn’t lost however! Every week I visit sites who are often as equally frustrated with waste and working with them never ceases to amaze me with their passion for ‘getting it right’ for those in their care. Investing in time and training with our hardworking teams to help them identify and eliminate waste is resource well spent. Their behaviour will change the system!