I want to start this article with one fact, I love my "job" and if you ask me what it is that makes me love it so much; my answer would be only one word “Learning”.
This is the kind of job where text messages, emails, phone calls, FaceTime, etc.… simply just do not work. I must personally go observe the SPD (Sterile Processing Department). When I walk through, I ask questions which most of the time there are no answers or explanations provided. During my presentations and SPD walk through, I have the opportunity to meet incredible people, with incredible jobs, talent, and ideas; unfortunately, most of the time they are faced with challenging and difficult problems which are the daily problems.
One time during one of my visits, staff started to run like crazy and the look on their faces was horrified, as they were looking for an instrument set which happened to be a case with the one surgeon. The person walking with me tells this is not normal, I suggested we review their protocol and process and we were immediately able to pinpoint where things went wrong and how NuTrace would eliminate this happening again.
Many of my walks through SPD have taught me that all problems are similar, but the approaches are different and this depends on hospital goals, budgets, etc.…
I have built so many solid solutions from my many walks and when I come back to present the solutions, the hospital decided to go on a different road with a different vendor, which will lead them down the same problematic path, but on a different road. I simply turn around and wish them the best but, I have a sense of disappointment as I know NuTrace Lean Process will solve their problem(s).
I think would be fair at least for me to present not the problems we all know but some of the solutions I never had an opportunity to present and deploy as Lean process to those hospitals I did the walk for.
There is not a magic bullet list to solve problems. Lean process is not a “To Do List” but a mindset. Here at NuTrace we added some science to the lean process as a tool (Tracking, managing, planning) to integrate into a new mindset for the modern Sterile Production Department.
1- Think more as a “Production Line” than a “Department”
From an instrument, you build a complete sterile set within a process. It is so precise and sensitive; I always compare SPD with the major aircraft manufacturers. Where is the difference you ask? It is the scale of the product built (airplanes VS sets) the process inside is pretty much the same.
2- Understand your customer. Lockheed Martin is an American icon. Technology, building combat airplanes for their customers: Marines, Air Force, governments etc.… It is what they do. You build sterile instrument sets for OR, Endo, ED etc... These are your valuable customers.
3- Identify your Value Stream. Those are a sequence of activities taking place in the right order and the right time from start to finish in order to create value for your customer. This is a horizontal flow.
4- Identify MUDA (Waste) and remove it from the value stream.
5- Talk about things nobody wants to talk about. Ask your customer their level of satisfaction. Are we meeting their expectations? How can we improve? Think as the customer.
6- People are the most valuable assets in the Lean Enterprise. Start talking more about responsibility and less about accountability. Ask your people how we can improve. You will be surprised, as they will have more answers than the expensive consultants they bring to solve those problems. Your inside people are your EXPERTS. Remember, the value is created at the bottom.
We will continue walking inside SPD, and I am sure I will continue learning more and more as well not only bringing answers, but inspiring people to learn from mistakes and keep asking themselves how can we improve every single day.