Knowing What Really Matters to Patients

Fatimah Abdoloh-Mohamed, a Medical Assistant at Navos clinic, saw a problem. Patients at Navos were receiving referrals for the Brain Naptriuretic Peptide test, which can detect heart failure. With the referral, the patients were expected to go to an off-site lab to access this critical test.

Now, that might not seem like a problem, but Abdoloh-Mohamed understood that patients value test results, not just referrals. Referrals are only valuable insofar as they help patients get the results.

Anneleen Severynen, a supervisor at Navos, explains that, for many patients, the referral wasn’t easy to take advantage of. The majority of Navos patients live with several chronic illnesses as well as mental health conditions, and may also face barriers to transportation. Additionally, taking time off from work is not an option for many of the patients. They’d need to make more time off work to get to another clinic. “Lots of patients don’t follow up with referrals,” Severynen concludes.

“That is not right,” Abdoloh-Mohamed adds “It is not hard to do the test. We have to do this.”

Abdoloh-Mohamed knew that the test wasn’t difficult to conduct because she’d done it herself in a previous job.

So she made that problem one of her first kaizen ideas when Navos clinic began doing daily kaizen.

Anneleen Severynen and Fatimah Abdoloh-Muhamed

Fatimah Abdoloh-Mohamed (right) discusses her testing improvement idea with Anneleen Severynen, the supervisor at Navos who has been leading daily kaizen.

Daily kaizen empowers the people who do the work to identify problems and implement changes that reduce waste and frustration in the work, delivering more value to customers.

Abdoloh-Mohamed’s proposed improvement was simple: we can administer and process the test ourselves. She looked into possible legal or medical barriers and found none. She also confirmed that the Navos clinic would incur no extra expense delivering the test, as the medical supplier would cover the costs.

Abdoloh-Mohamed and her team wanted to see how well it would work for customers—would it really provide the anticipated benefits for them?—and how it would impact staff workloads.

Abdoloh-Mohamed and the team tested the improvement and successfully processed two tests. Abdoloh-Mohamed measured the extra time it took her to process the test. The team determined this extra time spent was not a burden on clinic and the benefit to patients was high.

The team agreed that the experiment proved successful, and now the team is working to train the other medical assistant to do the test.

And now patients at Navos can get what they value—test results!

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