Redesigning Clinical Workflows to Return Joy to Patient Care
Do You Put Up with It? Or Do You Put It Up on the Board?

How many “little” problems do you put up with each day simply because it’s easier to put up with them than to try to fix them?

burned-out-bearded-doctorYou know what I’m talking about. The form that was not correctly filled out, the supplies that are not where they should be, the pen that runs out of ink, or the patient that got scheduled incorrectly. burned out bearded doctor

Each of these is a relatively minor annoyance. How do you respond?

  • Do these problems rise to the level that would make you “stop the line”, to use a Toyota term? Not likely.
  • Do you have the energy at the end of a busy day to follow up and fix them? Not likely, especially if you are additionally stressed by the cumulative effect of many such “little” problems.
  • Do you simply accept them as a “cost of doing business”?

There is a better alternative in a Lean management system, and it is found in the daily huddle. (By now almost everyone is aware that a huddle is a brief, stand-up meeting of the team working together in an office or on a unit.)

Problem-solving is a key component of effective huddles. The problems that are addressed in the huddle are there because someone on the team identified the problem, and rather than simply putting up with it, they put it on the “problem countermeasure board”.

huddle+boardDuring the huddle, the person leading the huddle reviews that board. Any new problem on the board is reviewed for clarification, and then someone is assigned to work on a solution, with an agreed upon date for follow up in a subsequent huddle. If the team does not have the resources or authority to solve the problem on their own, they escalate the problem to those who do.

This is a simple and effective way to change one of the drivers of burnout – low levels of control over your work.

  • When we simply “put up with a problem” that makes our work harder, we are giving up control.
  • When we “put the problem up on the board”, we regain control. If we do so consistently, our work life improves slowly but surely, which will also improve another burnout driver – overburden.

How many little problems do you “put up with” each day?

Have you experienced the benefits of “putting them up on the board” instead?

I’d love to hear what works for you. Please share your ideas with a Reply below.

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