Featured Product
This Week in Quality Digest Live
Health Care Features
Etienne Nichols
How to give yourself a little more space when things happen
Chris Bush
Penalties for noncompliance can be steep, so it’s essential to understand what’s required
Jennifer Chu
Findings point to faster way to find bacteria in food, water, and clinical samples
Smaller, less expensive, and portable MRI systems promise to expand healthcare delivery
Lindsey Walker
A CMMS provides better asset management, streamlined risk assessments, and improved emergency preparedness

More Features

Health Care News
Showcasing the latest in digital transformation for validation professionals in life sciences
An expansion of its medical-device cybersecurity solution as independent services to all health systems
Purchase combines goals and complementary capabilities
Better compliance, outbreak forecasting, and prediction of pathogens such as listeria or salmonella
Links ZEISS research and capabilities in automated, high-resolution 3D imaging and analysis
Creates one of the most comprehensive regulatory SaaS platforms for the industry
Resistant to high-pressure environments, and their 3/8-in. diameter size fits tight spaces
Easy, reliable leak testing with methylene blue
New medical product from Canon’s Video Sensing Division

More News

Georgia Institute of Technology

Health Care

Medical Center Reduces Wait Time and Improves Customer Satisfaction

With help from Georgia Tech and a grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation

Published: Monday, January 4, 2010 - 07:00

To improve customer satisfaction, enhance the quality of services and reduce costs, Peach Regional Medical Center has worked with the Georgia Institute of Technology to adopt process improvement techniques traditionally used by the manufacturing industry. Already, Peach Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department has noted a 20 percent decrease in average length of stay for its patients.

Nancy Peed, CEO and administrator of Peach Regional Medical Center in Fort Valley, Georgia, says hospitals have to develop ways from within of doing things quicker, more efficiently, and with less duplication.

(Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek)

“The bulk of our patients come through the emergency room and people judge the care by how quickly they are seen and treated,” says Nancy Peed, CEO of Peach Regional Medical Center in Fort Valley, Georgia. “Peach Regional Medical Center provides care for 15,000 patients each year in our emergency department, and this volume continues to increase. That demand, coupled with an undersized and aging emergency department facility, means of course that we have throughput issues, and we are working diligently to manage and improve these issues.”

Earlier this year, Peed became aware of an initiative led by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute to help train rural hospital staff in lean principles that identify waste in processes and find ways to eliminate it, while improving customer and staff satisfaction. The project is funded by a $349,000 grant from Healthcare Georgia Foundation. Georgia Tech has successfully used the approach with hospitals in Athens, Atlanta, Columbus, Newnan, and Vidalia, and its training programs have been licensed for use nationwide by the American Hospital Association.

Matt Haynes, a Georgia Tech lean specialist, began the project by leading Peach Regional staff in lean overview training. Teams of six people from the medical center then developed value-stream maps—diagrams of the entire patient admitting and discharge process—for both the medical-surgical nursing and emergency departments.

“We identified 30-day quick fixes and also began implementing 5S, a method for organizing the workplace,” recalls Chance McGough, medical-surgical nurse manager and lean coordinator for Peach Regional. “We organized the ER and utility rooms, labeled everything in the supply closets, and color-coded materials so they are easier to find. That has helped facilitate flow through the ER because we spend less time looking for things and more time taking care of patients.”

In addition to the lean implementation, senior management at Peach Regional attended a Disney Institute workshop in Atlanta titled “Common Sense to Common Practice: Lessons for Healthcare.” Topics included how to improve the patient experience and motivate health care staff while delivering top-notch health care service, an imperative in a state where approximately 85 percent of hospitals are operating at a loss, Peed said. This training was also funded by the Healthcare Georgia Foundation grant.

“If we can come up with ways from within of doing things quicker, more efficiently, and with less duplication, we’re ahead of the game and we can be even more successful and provide even better care to our patients,” notes Peed. “It’s not good enough to meet customer needs; you have to exceed them every time.”

Rural hospitals in Georgia face a financial crisis because their patients are less likely than those of metropolitan hospitals to have health insurance. At the same time, hospitals in underserved areas face other competitive disadvantages as they confront rising costs.

“The current recession has impacted the rural hospitals more so than those in metro Atlanta,” Haynes notes. “Improving the process of how patients are seen is having a positive impact on both patient treatment and the hospital’s profit.”

Such facilities need to find sustainable ways to become more efficient, which is why Healthcare Georgia Foundation provided the grant to Georgia Tech. In addition to Peach Regional Medical Center, hospitals participating in the program include Upson Regional Medical Center in Thomaston, Monroe County Hospital in Forsyth, Morgan Memorial Hospital in Madison, Banks-Jackson-Commerce Hospital in Commerce, West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange, and Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe.

The projects are expected to be completed by June 2010.


About The Author

Georgia Institute of Technology’s picture

Georgia Institute of Technology

The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the nation’s top research universities, distinguished by its commitment to improving the human condition through advanced science and technology. Georgia Tech’s campus occupies 400 acres in the heart of the city of Atlanta, where 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive a focused, technologically-based education.