This past Friday, students in Fisher’s MBOE program got a real-world lesson on the word gemba with visits to Ohio State University Medical Center and Tosoh Corp.
At the medical center, Dr. Susan Moffatt Bruce and her team welcomed students, who got up-close access to areas including labor and delivery, chemotherapy infusion and the invasive preparation and recovery area, a 23-bed unit that serves OSU’s Ross Heart Hospital. Each group was chartered with creating value stream map for the processes they observed, an hours-long process that resulted in a few common themes: Variation in process, a gap in understanding of the full value stream among frontline members and not enough communication among team members.
The efficiency of health care took on a new urgency when a patient, Michele, and Dr. Daniel Eiferman spoke. Speaking of her father’s six-year journey with cancer treatment, Michele said: “Please don’t assume that patients know the condition of their illness or the next steps. Also, please listen to what the patient or their family member is trying to say.” Dr. Eiferman said because he wants to use as much of his time to help patients, “the inefficiencies in the processes keep me away from adding value to my patients.”
Students said they wanted to make sure that their findings were helpful to the managers who let their staff dedicate half their day to spend with the students. High praise on the results came from none other than Dr. Charles Lockwood, dean of the medical school, who said it was important to understand the constraints that people work with to do their jobs and eliminate those constraints whenever possible to improve inefficiencies.