How do you simplify an intricate procedure?
The answer is taking the method and making it leaner for everyday performance.
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) has “got Lean” in its approach to continuously improve the care it provides for Minnesota Veterans by utilizing the Enterprise Lean program. Since MDVA has used and become Lean in its day-to-day routines, it has improved Veteran healthcare, designed a more economical pharmacy and made the admission process in Veterans Homes run easier.
“They worked on it for several days and they came up with a redesign of their admission process to make it much better for Veterans and their families. The response has been incredible because they made it smoother,” said Agnes Kastenholz-Lehn, Registered Nurse and Quality Director with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs.
MDVA uses Lean to create greater efficiencies in its work environment. It does this by reviewing its set processes and looking at how it can be improved. Lean not only creates a better atmosphere for Veterans, but it also increases the productivity of MDVA employees. The program trains employees that are closest to the work and empowers them to continuously improve how work gets done.
“By using Lean, MDVA is able to reach their goal by taking a complex process and making it simple,” said Robin Gaustad, Senior Director of Veterans Health Care. She also said, “What we say in our quality of improvement plan for MDVA is that every Home has to do two Lean projects every year.”
Two out of the last three years, MDVA has been awarded the Governor’s Continuous Improvement Award. This award recognizes individual and organizational achievements in increased productivity, efficiency and improving customer service of state government services. Last year, MDVA was recognized for decreasing the rate of Veteran’s pressure ulcer wounds from 10.5 percent to a low of 3.1 percent. Since, MDVA maintains a rate of pressure ulcer wounds below the national average.
After a Lean project is carried out, MDVA continuously monitors the plan. They measure all continuous improvement projects on a score card. The score card gives MDVA staff an indicator if they are meeting or not meeting their goals. “We do that in clinical excellence because we care for Veterans from a clinical perspective, so that’s number one,” said Gaustad. The other categories that are reviewed and monitored are employee and customer satisfaction and operational function. The score card allows MDVA to look at all aspects of their operation.
MDVA has become leaner by redesigning and improving their operation and service models. As a result, there have been quality of life improvements, reductions in time needed to provide a service, amount of work needed to produce a specific output, and savings in direct costs for materials and services.