Cynthia Persily, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Persily is the CEO of Highland Hospital in Charleston, WV
Today, I had the opportunity to attend the WV Chapter of the American Health Care Executives’ Spring meeting. The topic was performance improvement including blue ocean techniques as well as six sigma and lean strategies. As we listened to our colleagues from across the state talk about their successes with using these strategies to improve systems and processes in their organizations, it occurred to me that the similarities across each of these performance improvement methods is that they present us with a framework for logically thinking through the work of healthcare, and solving the right problems.
At Highland, we’ve invested a lot of time and thinking into using strategies such as root cause analysis to analyze where breakdowns in our systems occur that lead to less than satisfactory outcomes. Our mission of providing the highest quality behavioral healthcare depends on us recognizing where there are opportunities to improve. Our dedication to quality as well as fiscal responsibility dictates that we have to solve the right problems, and not spin our wheels solving the wrong problems, to make best use of our scarce resources.
A recent example of our use of root cause analysis in problem solving led to changes in policies at Highland, re-education of staff about their responsibilities in particular situations, new ways to manage patients, and facility changes to prevent the same problem in the future. That is system thinking at it’s finest– looking at where in the system our intervention can make the most impact.
We will continue to refine our methods of performance and process improvement and to formalize our processes for problem solving. We owe our patients, their families, our stakeholders and ourselves nothing less.