Jobseekers may not automatically think of the idea of continuous process improvement (CPI) when considering a role—but it can be a big reason that employees are happy in their jobs. Chief Nursing Officer Elina Lazo is on a mission to ensure that the “have-to” procedures and processes that frontline caregivers are doing daily are truly “have-to”—and are not unnecessary timewasters, creating inefficiencies and frustrations.
What is continuous process improvement?
CPI is a practice of making ongoing, incremental changes to your business or organization to improve quality and efficiency. Elina uses her background in CPI to help her and other leaders attract and retain the best and brightest caregivers at Swedish Edmonds and Mill Creek campuses.
Elina explains there’s no reason to continue doing things simply because that’s how it’s always been done. Says Elina, “I grew up with continuous process improvement, that’s something that just naturally comes to me. How do we get rid of the noise, how do we get rid of non-value-added processes that we have in place.”
Improving efficiencies with open communication
“Partnering with frontline caregivers and our leaders when they identify waste is one of my biggest passions,” says Elina. And to her, that starts with open communication and taking a hard look at how things are done. She encourages everyone to look at processes and evaluate whether they fall into the “white noise” category. She says, “There may be reasons that we need to do some things that may not be value-added, but if we can decrease it and focus on our efficiency, it makes everyone’s life easier, especially on the frontline.”
Elina is a huge proponent of caregivers voicing ways they believe processes could improve and their workdays could run smoother. She says, “I welcome anyone that ever has any ideas around where there may be opportunities… I’m all ears for that.”
CPI in practice at Providence Swedish
Elina gives an example of how she and her team eliminated waste or white noise from the surgical setting at Swedish Edmonds. “We used to transfer patients from another facility through a middleman which created extra steps that were not necessary—as well as delays for patients and caregivers,” says Elina. “We evaluated that process and ultimately eliminated the bottleneck, and now we’re accepting these patients directly to the operating room. The patients come in a lot faster: they can bypass the emergency department, where they used to be held, and now they come directly to the OR. We do their surgery, and often they’re discharged the same day if it’s appropriate for them. That’s been working really well for the past year.”
CPI contributes to retention
Elina says that the turnover rate for her hospital campuses has dramatically decreased, due in part to these incremental improvements that help caregivers feel happier at work. According to Elina, “A little over a year ago, our attrition rate was around 23 percent. Now we’re down to around 14 percent. That is a huge decrease. Every single person plays an important role on these campuses, regardless of what you’re doing, whether you’re a doctor, or a nurse, or an environmental services worker, or work in imaging or nutrition services—everyone plays a vital role. Everyone is important, and I want to make sure that every single person feels that. If they don’t, then we need to hear about it to make sure that we’re doing what we need to do to make sure that everyone feels valued, because I value them, we value them.”
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