Value-added time is an extremely important concept to study if you’re trying to optimize the flow of any process or system of processes, and it has special value in some specific environments. Typically, areas where response time is critical tend to benefit more from a stronger approach to this factor, and healthcare tends to be one of the biggest contenders for that.
It should come as no surprise that hospitals are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve the value-added time in their processes, as this allows them to service patients more quickly and to a greater degree of satisfaction.
How it Relates to Healthcare
Wait times are often one of the biggest issues a healthcare facility has to deal with, and there is no universal solution that works across the board. Each facility typically needs to conduct its own study into its practices in order to pinpoint areas where patients are being forced to wait unnecessarily, or where procedures are taking longer than they should.
Simple tools for tracking time and throughput can help identify bottlenecks very quickly, while talking to your employees in a more direct manner can be useful for localizing issues that aren’t that obvious on the surface.
Sometimes a small change in your processes can result in a significant reduction in wait times and other unpleasant factors, adding a lot more value to the time patients spend in the facility. Not every hospital or clinic is that lucky to operate in an environment so properly aligned to its optimization though, and in most cases you’ll have to think more carefully about how you can reduce certain times without negatively impacting the facility.
Don’t Go Overboard!
And this brings us to the next important point – while it’s a good idea to optimize your processes and ensure that you’re always getting a lot of value out of each minute spent serving patients, it’s also very important to make sure that nothing is getting rushed and that you aren’t pushing the constraints of your employees too far.
This is a common problem in some overworked healthcare facilities, and it can quickly lead to disaster that’s pretty much impossible to undo. If you want to make sure that things won’t get that bad, you will need to pay close attention to how your changes are affecting the overall workflow at the facility.
Spend some more time talking to your physicians to make sure that nothing is wrong beneath the surface. The nature of healthcare work can sometimes make it hard to share negative impressions about the current situation, and you’ll need a more hands-on approach to ensure that you’re seeing the full picture.
Having some system in place that can track changes over time, as well as categorize input from your physicians and patients alike, is a good idea if you want to make sure that you’re not missing any details from the picture while at the same time not having to put in too much manual work yourself.
Just make sure that you don’t rely exclusively on your data collection system to give you an overview of the situation, and always give things a more personal touch to ensure that you’re not missing anything.
Value-added time can have many forms, but healthcare is arguably one of the fields that recognize it the most. There is a lot to gain from improving the way your facility works with regards to how fast patients are being served and what procedures they have to go through on a regular basis, and ensuring that you have some systems in place to monitor all that is a great step to making things run as smoothly as possible.