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Improving the Patient Experience with an Inspirational Kaizen

Posted by Mark Graban

Feb 16, 2016 6:30:00 AM

Here at KaiNexus, we love it when our customers share with us examples of the improvement work that they are tracking and managing through our continuous improvement software.

Mary Greeley Medical Center recently shared a “Kaizen” style improvement that we really enjoyed. We’re sharing it here, with their permission.

To learn more about MGMC, check out this awesome webinar they did with us last year about how leadership and methodology spread improvement. They're a really inspirational organization, and we're proud to partner with them in continuous improvement! (Watch the webinar here.)

The most recent improvement MGMC has shared with us is “A Wall of Inspiration in Radiation Oncology.” It's such a great story, we just had to share it with you, too.

As written in their newsletter:



“If you stop by Radiation Oncology be prepared to feel inspired.”

A once blank wall has been decorated with words of support and encouragement, all done in varying colors and fonts, for patients and families.

Julia Wolfe, unit secretary, thought the wall would be the perfect space for something inspiring and motivational.

“I spoke with a few of our patients early on to get their input. A family member of one of our patients told me that the wall is as much for the family and friends of the patient as it is for the patient,” she says. “The patient goes to the back for treatment and doesn’t spend much time in the lobby. It’s the family and friends that are there longer and they also need encouragement. It was like an ‘aha’ moment for me. It was then that I just knew we had to do something special for our patients, and the families and friends that come with them on a daily basis.”

Julia submitted the idea via KaiNexus and then did some research on companies that could provide the lettering for the words. Radiation Oncology staff members chose the words, as well as the colors and fonts. Julia chose the cancer ribbons that border the top of the wall. Facilities staff applied the words to the wall.

“We have had so many positive comments on the wall.” While it was being installed patients told me they couldn’t wait to come the next day to see what the words were going to be,” says Julia.


Why do I love this Kaizen? Let me count the ways.

  1. It was an opportunity that was identified by a front line staff member, Julia.
  2. Julia got input from patients and their loved ones, to help look at things from their perspective, which led to a key insight and an idea that might not have occurred to her.
  3. There was teamwork and collaboration from multiple departments and roles within the hospital, managed, and coordinated through KaiNexus.
  4. It’s a small improvement, which we encourage in the Kaizen methodology (see a video we created about no idea being too small).
  5. it’s an improvement that’s not focused on cost savings, but rather, on improving the environment and the patient experience. Our customers report enormous financial benefits, but not every improvement needs to save money.
  6. The organization shared the idea and gave recognition, which will inspire Julia to continue implementing improvements and it will inspire others to be creative in improving their departments - turning blank walls into something inspiring.

The methodology of Kaizen is incredibly powerful in healthcare (as it is in other industries). 
It requires leadership and some form of technology to help make improvement happen and to spread continuous improvement more widely.

Does your organization have examples like Julia’s?

Again, thanks to Mary Greeley Medical Center and their leaders for being willing to share this example.

Learn more about MGMC in this free webinar recording:

How Leadership Commitment and A Systematic Approach Spread Improvement

Watch Now

  • MGMC_Webinar.pngHow MGMC has combined Lean tools and methodologies with a "managing for daily improvement" approach
  • How leadership and technology enable and support successful improvement methodologies
  • MGMC's vision for leaders getting everybody engaged in improvement
  • How MGMC has systematically (and successfully) spread continuous improvement methodologies across the hospital over the past 12 months
  • Why it's important to engage leaders and to educate them about improvement and the role they need to play

Topics: Daily Improvement, Kaizen, Customer Testimonials

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