Ever y thing
in Its Place
Small group medical practices face an extraordinary array of challenges on a daily basis. Many of those challenges are also extraordinarily complex—taking into account byzantine billing and coding systems;
balancing demands of patients, physicians, and insurance
providers; and maintaining rigorous compliance with regulations, all while delivering the high-quality care and medical
outcomes at the core of any practice’s existence and mission.
Given these complex challenges, it’s not surprising that
many of the proposed strategies for tackling them are equally
complex in their own right. However, that doesn’t always have
to be the case, and when a simple solution provides results
that far outstrip the costs involved in implementing it, that
solution deserves a wide audience.
We created just such a solution at Berkshire Facial Surgery
through the power of standardization.
Berkshire Facial Surgery is a full-service oral and max-illofacial surgery practice. We regularly perform corrective
jaw surgeries, implant surgeries, wisdom tooth removal, and
more. The staff is trained in assisting with general anesthesia
or IV sedation within our state-of-the-art offices. Our practice
has a staff of 20, including two surgeons and 18 administrative employees.
The practice serves an average of 50 patients per day at
three locations in western Massachusetts, and our clinical and
administrative staff regularly rotate among those locations.
The Lean Philosophy
Before we get to the specifics of our experience, it’s important
to understand the powerful principles at work. Those principles start with the concept of “Lean” thinking, and especially
the techniques of “5S” organizing.
Originating in Japan and popu-
larized by Toyota, Lean philosophy
emphasizes cutting down on
wasted time and resources by stan-
dardizing processes and enlisting
all employees in designing and
maintaining those improved prac-
tices. Lean ideas are most directly
associated with manufacturing
businesses, but they have been put
to use to boost productivity and
efficiency in all kinds of enterprises.
Enthusiasm for Lean thinking has
permeated many industries, and
health care has been no exception.
Implementing Lean philosophy in
your practice can take many forms,
but one of the most straightforward
ways to achieve substantial benefits without incurring substantial costs is by adopting the 5S model of organizing.
5S organizing is named for the five phases that define the
process—Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain.
In enterprises that put a premium on precision, efficiency,
and safety (sound familiar?), 5S is a powerful tool.
At its core, 5S is about consistently putting what is
needed in the hands of your employees, when they need
it, and where they need it with the least effort and training
required. With some thoughtful consideration upfront and
the right tools, 5S can make every employee in a medical
practice, from front-desk administrator to lead practitioner,
How 5S organizing and custom standardization
transformed our practice
By Justine Vieu