Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cliona Archambeault, Senior Director of Process Improvement, at UMass Memorial Health. UMMH is committed to improving the health of Central Massachusetts residents through excellence in care, comprehensive health services, teaching, and research. The system includes UMass Memorial Medical Center, a trusted academic medical center and level 1 trauma center. UMMH has been on its Continuous Improvement journey for close to a decade, first introduced by CEO Dr. Eric Dickson.
UMass Memorial Health recently reached a huge milestone worth celebrating - they hit 100,000 ideas in their idea system. Reaching 100k ideas was no small feat - it took the dedication, perseverance, and willingness of their caregivers and leadership team to identify so many opportunities for improvement. Cliona took some time to share some highlights of their journey.
Beginning of CI Journey
Dr. Dickson advocated for a Continuous Improvement Program at UMMH when he became the CEO in 2013. Shortly afterward, they launched their first idea system. Over the years, they tried plenty of different idea systems ranging in complexity from paper records to SharePoint. When the Pandemic hit in March 2020, they needed a digital tool to gather ideas and support their CI work while many teams transitioned to work from home. The need for that kind of tool led UMMH to roll out KaiNexus, internally known as Innovation Station.
Motivation in CI work
There is no more dangerous killer of motivation than a leader not walking their talk. Cliona echos this statement, sharing -
"It is so important to have an engaged manager or champion leading each team in process improvement. That is the key to getting things started! Once a manager can get a team started - we often see the team get excited and make CI work a part of their daily process."
One of UMMH’s 2022 Strategic Goals is increasing employee participation in Innovation Station. Toward that end, UMMH ensures Innovation Station is a crucial topic shared with employees during their required white belt training. Additionally, the CI team offers coaching and brainstorming sessions to answer questions, drive idea sharing, and inspire teams to get involved in CI work.
Reaching 100k Ideas
"I'm looking forward to accelerating the next 100k ideas. Since it took us eight years to reach the first 100k, I’d love to see us halve the time to reach the next 100k," Cliona shares. These ideas encompass ideas across all their different idea systems over the years, each of which helped to improve caregiver and patient satisfaction and safety.
UMMH emphasizes to their employees that through a CI culture, everyone has the power to identify problems - and Innovation Station will help find the right person to solve that problem. As mentioned earlier, one of their goals is to drive participation in Innovation Station this year. Cliona shares,
"We are measuring participation to stress that we want everyone to participate in improvement. We want to continue this so everyone feels that they belong, and they can impact the way we improve our care."
A Favorite Idea
I asked Cliona to pinpoint a single idea that stands out in her mind among the 100k ideas in the system. Cliona shared that one of her favorite ideas was repurposing unused treatment rooms into caregiver wellness break rooms. Ambulatory Psychiatry clinic rooms are now used as caregiver wellness break rooms to engage in mindfulness and relaxation when they are not in use to combat caregiver fatigue. Ideas can be simple - and sometimes the best ideas are! By improving caregivers' well-being, they can ultimately serve patients better.
Advice for others starting in CI
Finally, I asked Cliona to share some advice with anyone starting their Continuous Improvement journey. Cliona shares,
"Start small - but start clearly. Identify something that will help your organization - and focus on those. Make sure you identify key influencers to help you roll out the program successfully."
We want to thank Cliona, and everyone on the UMMH Team for being an incredible partner to us here at KaiNexus! We are looking forward to seeing UMass Memorial Health's next 100k ideas!
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