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Driving Process Improvement in an Information Systems Department

Posted by Maggie Millard

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Sep 11, 2015 6:30:00 AM

Webinar recording: A System-Wide Approach to Driving Process ImprovementI wanted to share with you a story that I heard for the first time in a webinar presented by Jason Coons, the Director of Process Excellence at Kettering Health Network - a seven-hospital system located in the greater Dayton, Ohio area with around 11,000 employees and 1,400 physicians. In this webinar, Jason shares his organization’s system-wide approach to driving process improvement, starting with how process excellence really got underway before expanding to the entire network in 2013.

In 2012, the Information Systems Department realized that they needed to make some changes in order to keep up with the organization’s growth. It wasn’t enough to just keep throwing more resources at the work they were doing; they needed to take a step back to improve that work. That’s a familiar story! To do this, they created a vision of where they wanted to go and how they could change. They realized the importance of engaging their more than 250 employees in process improvement, and decided to deploy Lean practices in order to reach out to them all.

That’s where Jason comes into the story. He is responsible for driving process improvement and strategy deployment across the network. Jason has an extensive background in hospital operations, change management, project management, and analytics.

Early in their improvement journey, Jason’s team realized that a partnership with the IS Department was vital to their success, and the IS Department quickly realized the same. The department came to Jason’s team, asking questions about how they could better assess the waste within their services in order to better support Kettering Health Network. Together, the Process Excellence team and the IS Department worked to:

  1. Set a clear vision
  2. Determine a plan for making sure staff and leaders were connected to that vision
  3. Develop a high level roadmap of the steps to achieve success

As part of Kettering’s strategy, they utilize a three pronged approach to process improvement: they improve people, processes, and technology, in that order.


The first step to spreading continuous improvement is to make sure that people have the right skills and the right training. Because they knew they’d need the support of every single employee, it was important to spend some time coaching each person so as to eliminate the natural fear of the unknown and overcome any resistance to change. This is the key behind their success in driving a culture of continuous improvement.


Once they had the support of the staff and leaders, they began a value stream analysis, looking closely at their service lines and planning for the future state. They identified an 18-month roadmap based on seven rapid improvement events that would challenge the paradigms of how they provide service to the Network. They began pulling in teams to work on the events, and, in the process, realized that there were another 200 people out there with ideas for improvement and no way to engage them.


That’s when they turned to KaiNexus, a continuous improvement software platform that allows users to capture, implement, measure, and share improvements across a complex organization. KaiNexus enabled them to include those other 200 people in the improvement process, as they expanded their process improvement efforts to include Kaizen (small daily improvements from everyone, rather than improving exclusively through large projects).

Today, the IS department has made it through that initial road map, completing their plans to address critical areas of their services. Of course, a journey of continuous improvement is never complete, but the team has made great progress. They now have eight to ten leaders who are experienced in driving improvement events on their own, a key element of a sustainable culture change. They now include daily Kaizen in their improvement efforts (averaging one improvement per person per year), and between these two elements, they’re improving all of their key metrics and really driving change throughout the department.

For more information, watch the webinar about Kettering's system-side approach to driving process improvement:

A System-Wide Approach to Driving Process Improvement

Watch Now


Topics: Improvement Culture, Customer Testimonials

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