Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center worker.

Leaders at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center (Memorial) recognized there was room for improvement in meeting the healthcare needs of the Greater Niagara community, especially when considering new federal health care policies that are taking effect. Excessive readmission rates of heart failure patients will result in financial penalties beginning in late 2012 and customer satisfaction scores have the potential to impact the government reimbursement levels that individual hospitals receive. Memorial reached into the continuous improvement toolbox in 2010 with the aim of improving its ability to heal patients.

The Approach

  • Introduced 24 administrators from various departments to the Lean Six Sigma methodology
  • Completed a Lean Value Stream Mapping project among a cross-section of Memorial employees, both managers and non-managers, to understand every step of a typical emergency room patient experience from admission to discharge
  • Using waste elimination and process variation reduction techniques, trained three managers from radiology, clinical engineering and communication, and quality specialties through the University at Buffalo’s Certified Lean Sigma Blue Belt program

The Impact

  • Reduced heart failure patient readmission rate from 34 percent to 15 percent by: reviewing an information packet; scheduling follow-up appointments with primary physicians; checking on patients after discharge; and providing summaries of which medications to take and which to discontinue after discharge
  • Decreased radiology report processing from an average 16.2 hours to 54.6 minutes – thus shortening inpatient stay – by instituting a digital voice recognition-based system
  • Decreased noise level by 50 percent in cardiac and stroke unit patient rooms with a wireless communication system, door mufflers, quieter ice-making machine, and regular reminders to lower staff voices, among other initiatives