1) As health care looks at continuous improvement (as done in manufacturing), one of the most prominent questions that has arisen is, “Can the principles that worked in manufacturing really transfer over to health care? Taking care of a patient is not like building a car on an assembly line. Can standardized processes really work in a setting that focuses on humans and their needs?”
2) Write a paper of 1,000–1,200 words that takes a position on this argument. Justify the rationale for your position.
3) Refer to the assigned readings to incorporate specific examples and details into your paper.
4) Prepare this assignment according to the APA guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is not required.
5) This assignment uses a grading rubric. Instructors will be using the rubric to grade the assignment; therefore, students should review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the assignment criteria and expectations for successful completion of the assignment.
Continuous Improvements in the Manufacturing Industry Versus the Health Care Industry
The pursuit of continuous improvement is one of the hallmark indicators of a successful organization. This is because such an outlook not only envisions the future of the organization, but also engages in consistent growth and development to facilitate said improvements. In this way, an organization pursuing continuous improvement positions itself uniquely to affect, direct, and manage the changes it encounters as oppose to simply reacting to said changes. The manufacturing industry has managed to demonstrate, over the years, the ability and extent to which an organization can pursue continuous improvement for its own growth and benefit (Osono, Shimizu, & Takeuchi, 2008).
As the current health care industry looks to realize more continuous growth and development in the quality and efficiency of care that patients receive, the principles of manufacturing quality management have served as a valuable reference point. Traditionally, it is expected that skeptics will question the ability of said principles to be successfully applied to the health care industry. However, it should come as no surprise that indeed manufacturing principles and a standardized process can actually successfully be implemented within the health care sector for better health care delivery and quality management.
In this sense, it is first of all imperative that manufacturing and health care are both observed from a shared-commonality perspective. Rather than observe manufacturing as an assembly line churning out products or a health care facility as a place where medical and health care needs are addressed by professionals, it is vital to observe both of them as systems.
This kind of approach to health care allows individuals to assess the health care sector, and facilities by extension, as a system of interconnected and interdependent individuals, professionals, and departments. In this way, a health care facility is not vastly different from a factory where different individuals, professionals, and departments work together to realize a common goal. This kind of thinking is essential to understanding how manufacturing principles of quality can be effectively applied to health care.
Admittedly, the ability of health care facilities and professionals to tailor and personalize the care that they provide in ways that perfectly suit individual medical and health care needs is a progressive and essential aspect of health care (Diaz, 2015). However, this ability to personalize health care is not mutually exclusive to standardizing the processes through which health care is delivered. As such, it is possible to take care of patients and meeting their needs while still having an interconnected, efficient, and smooth-running system guiding these processes (Haughom, 2017).
By nature, health care facilities are designed to administer different services according to departments and stages. For instance, it is standard practice that patient information will be collected first whenever patients arrive at a facility. There may be slight variations in how this occurs but it is a standard and definitive part of health care service delivery.
Similarly, other services such as admission, selection of treatment, payment for services, and even discharge processes are all standard procedures that patients are subjected to when they visit health care facilities. In this way, there is a collective group of departments and services provided by every health care facility to fulfill a variety of medical or health care obligations that are part of providing care. It is these departments and services that can greatly benefit from standardization and the application of manufacturing principles focused on quality management and continuous improvement.
In this way, it becomes essential to dissect and understand the different departments in health care facilities and the services that they provide. This understanding will prove critical to facilitating the improvement of the department or system to better serve patients (Peratec Ltd., 1994). For instance, applying Deming’s principle of implementing leadership can significantly improve the ability of a system to be standardized and to benefit from continuous improvement (More Business, 2006).
By figuring out exactly what every professional or department within a facility needs in order to perform their or its duty effectively, such aspects can be standardized across all health care facilities and work towards facilitating said continuous improvement. For example, current growth and advancement in technology calls for the digitization of health care records through a centralized Electronic Health Records system to ensure better access, record-keeping, and impact. This is a tool that is integral to the performance of physicians and nurses as they rely on the medical records and histories of their patients.
By standardizing this aspect of health care across the country and ensuring that all health facilities utilize an EHR system, the quality of care provided across the country can improve drastically. Applying kaizen principles and Plan-Do-Act-Check (PDCA) techniques and approaches to such standardizations will significantly contribute towards their continuous improvement much like is the case in manufacturing (Osono et al., 2008).
At the same time, it should be noted that other manufacturing principles, such as the Lean methodology, can be successfully applied and integrated into the delivery of health care. This approach is geared on reducing and eliminating the waste that an organization facilitates. By analyzing the root causes of problems, addressing said problems, and subsequently promoting the delivery and realization of both real and potential value to a facility, such principles have great promise should they be standardized as part of health care delivery (Majd, 2018). For example, a facility may suffer from increased waiting times as a result of poorly-designed discharge processes. These increased waiting periods further have the potential to reduce the number of patients the facility receives, effectively compromising its profitability and efficiency as a health care facility.
Deming’s principle of breaking down barriers between departments can work well to address this problem (More Business, 2006). By developing an open policy between departments and among workers that work towards building a shared vision, such processes can be standardized and effectively addressed (McLaughlin & Kaluzny, 2006).
By promoting stronger relationships between nurses, physicians, and patients regardless of their departments, discharge processes can be much faster as a result of the close working relationship and increased communication between departments. It would potentially eliminate unnecessary barriers that can hinder a smooth discharge process, and in the process improve patient flow and increase profitability at the facility in question. Standardizing such aspects of health care stands to drastically improve the performance of health care facilities across the country.
In spite of these advantages, it should also be noted that standardizing care delivery can have its fair share of challenges (Veazie, Johnson, & O’Connor, 2009). Perhaps the most significant one is the onset of confusion and inefficiency whenever the facility is forced to handle cases that do not conform to the standardized mold. Although such cases will be the minority, they can still cause impair the performance of the facility. It is vital to ensure that continuous improvement techniques such as the PDCA cycles are regularly used to assess standardized approaches to refine them and provide them with increased flexibility to meet a diverse array of both patient and facility health care needs (Osono et al., 2008).
Personalized health care is important to improving the quality of health care that patients receive. However, it should be noted that most of the time, the personalization of care mostly centers on the adjustable aspects of care delivery with the aim of improving the quality of care and life of the patient. In this sense, patients can tailor their medications when provided with options or schedule their visits in ways that suit them best.
These are adjustable aspects. However, they cannot tailor how they make their payments or the discharge process that they are subjected to in order to suit their preferences and needs. These are the non-adjustable aspects of care delivery. In this way, manufacturing principles can be successfully applied to the non-adjustable aspects of care delivery with great success, and in doing so contribute towards the continuous improvement of the health care sector.
Diaz, J. (2015). Standardization vs. personalization? Can health care do both? Retrieved from hitconsultant.net/2015/01/19/standardization-vs-personalization-can-healthcare-do- both/
Haughom, J. (2017). Five Deming principles that help healthcare process improvement.
Retrieved from: www.healthcatalyst.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Five-Deming-Principles-That-Help-Healthcare-Process-Improvement.pdf
Majd, C. (2018). Lean methodology in health care quality improvement. Retrieved from:
McLaughlin, C. P., & Kaluzny, A. D. (2006). Continuous quality improvement in health care. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett.
More Business. (2006). Edward Deming’s 14 principles: Business quality improvement | MoreBusiness.com. MoreBusiness.com. Retrieved from https://www.morebusiness.com/ahdemingteach/
Osono, E., Shimizu, N., & Takeuchi, H. (2008). Extreme Toyota: Radical contradictions that drive success at the world’s best manufacturer. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.
Peratec Ltd. (1994). Total quality management: The key to business improvement: A Peratec executive briefing. Dordrecht: Springer-Science and Business Media.
Veazie, P. J., Johnson, P. E., & O’Connor, P. J. (2009). Is there a downside to customizing care? Implication of general and patient-specific treatment strategies. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 15(6), 1171–1176. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2753.2009.01310.x.
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