'A LEAN on the Carter Report' From our Head of Solutions

Read this blog for a 'Lean on the Carter Report' from our Head of Solutions...Having read through the Carter Report “Review of operational productivity in NHS providers Interim Report (June 2015)” I was struck with the need for the powers that be within the NHS to combine their need for improved, automated process and the adoption of LEAN methodology. 

Now asking an organization the size of the NHS to adopt LEAN methodology is akin to wanting an organization the size of the NHS to go paperless by 2018…hold on a second! Anyway I would not expect this to happen (one big fat dream at a time please). But applying some of the mantras of LEAN aligned with some smart technology would indeed improve processes and help the paperless goal at the same time.

After all the goal is to reduce costs and provide an improved service.You may suggest the introduction of a nice forms based workflow tool, handling the automation of the well mapped out NHS processes and include LEAN cornerstones of optimization, central visibility, reduction of waste, etc. as routine. Instant savings, job done! Alas, not that simple. A large factor in trying to harmonize processes within an environment as disparate as the NHS is actually agreeing what the process is in the first place. Each location having their own slant on the data that needs to be collected, who needs to sign off, what rules administer the movement of the process, etc.

A few years ago trying to align a workflow tool with internal NHS processes would end up going around in circles of continuous code change, resulting in development bills that easily erode into any possible savings.So what is needed is an agile workflow tool that can cater for local data/rule requirements, while adhering to the core process. This greater flexibility would permit the gathering of all the data that the NHS require while allowing local needs to also be satisfied. These tools do exist today and are also fully ‘enabled’, i.e. no code required, so another bonus of self-sufficiency.

There are many pros to using process enablement tools, among them speed of change and cost-saving because modifications can be applied instantly and in-house. You also have a central view of process bottlenecks, which are the first indicators of process inefficiency. Reduction of wasted effort, e.g. the automatic production of required documentation as part of the process. I could go on about the pros but you are probably looking for the cons. In this case the con is the typical one, adoption of technology over manual forms….

Would we have progressed if we are still filling out manual forms in 5 years’ time? NO, so why not start the change today. Here is the added bonus of all this change, happier staff. Remember them. Give them time to actually do the work that they are employed to do. Remove the drudgery of wading through manual forms and documents. Start on a simple process and automate it. Give staff visibility of process status, reduce the admin overhead. Find the next process and repeat. Use a workflow tool that enables a Business Analyst to create and amend the process.

Now that’s real progress and it can start today….enjoy.


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