Akron Children’s Hospital is at the forefront of a fundamental shift taking place in healthcare today: the continuous improvement of patient-centered care. We are using Lean Six Sigma and other Operational Excellence principles to focus on processes with the goal of eliminating waste, reducing patient wait time, improving patient safety and lowering healthcare costs. The same is true of the hospital’s most recent construction project – the expansion of Building A on the Beeghly campus in Boardman.
Mock-Up Meetings Lead to Efficient, Flexible Design
One of the key strategies has been partnering with architects and an interdisciplinary team early in the design phase to help ensure that facilities are designed to improve patient care and create efficiency across the board. So last fall representatives from our outpatient areas, parent advisory council, the Center for Operations Excellence, and architects, used full-scale cardboard mock-ups in a warehouse so teams could experiment with designs.
With traditional building processes relying solely on floor plans and blueprints, too much room for error is at stake and they ultimately don’t convey how a space will function day-to-day. Details that end up as an “after-thought” in traditional design processes are brought up early in the lean process, leading to fewer expensive modifications or additions post-construction.
“We’ve seen firsthand the impact lean design can have,” said Anne Musitano, administrative director with the Mark A. Watson Center for Operations Excellence. “This approach allows us to focus on patients, families, and staff that ultimately saves time in design and construction phases, as well as realize budget efficiencies.”
Using mock-ups allows teams to run quick process simulations and test out their design ideas. Once basic operations are tested, details are added as a response to the simulations. Any design decisions can be made on the spot, and before we even break ground, instead of being based on traditional deliverables. This helps us make the best use of everyone’s time, while designing a facility that truly meets the needs of our patients and families.
“Designing spaces that are efficient and flexible can be challenging. This is a group process that tests us and our abilities to really understand the needs of each specialty and the care that needs to happen within that space,” said Musitano.