This week, we want to look at another example of how employee engagement can play an important role in making improvements in the health care system. As they say of TV, this one is grabbed from the headlines.
Patient wait times have been making news recently in the U.S. Some people have had to wait for weeks to get an initial appointment at Veterans’ Administration hospitals and other facilities. The problem, which has been going on for over a decade, is not unique to the VA system.
Wait times for medical care, particularly for some specialties, can be a problem throughout the medical system. Patients and the medical staffs are frustrated by long wait times, whether it is long delays before an initial appointment or sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office or medical center.
While this problem needs to be corrected, the possibility of it being solved by politicians is very remote. Fixing the health care system is best done by those working in the system. This is another example where employee involvement can solve a problem in health care.
An example of a project to reduce wait times comes from the Labor-Management Partnership at Kaiser Permanente. This team was able to reduce delays in initial appointments from 63 days to 9.2 days, an improvement of over 85%. The commitment and knowledge of those who work in the system made them well suited to identify the problem, find solutions, and implement their recommendations. After their initial success, the team continued to work in order to further refine the system for more improvements. This team deserves commendation for their great work.
Employee engagement can help identify and resolve many issues within the health care system. Whether it is patient wait times or the other examples we have provided in the last few blog entries, the knowledge of employees can help improve the overall system for the benefit of staff and customers.