Up Close: Brent Peterson, PE

HGA News

Bio_PetersonB_302.jpgBrent Peterson is an Industrial Engineer specializing in Lean workflow planning at HGA. He applies a research-based planning process to improve operational efficiency for leading healthcare organizations. Here, he talks about planning strategies from a Lean lens.

What is Lean Planning?

Lean planning at its core is about eliminating waste to create value.

How does Lean apply to healthcare planning?

Value is defined as quality of goods or services divided by cost. Healthcare defines quality in five ways: Is it patient-centered? Is it equitable? Is it timely? Is it effective? Is it safe?

Healthcare defines cost in one way – efficiency. Sixty-five percent of healthcare cost is in people, less than 10 percent is in the facility itself. If our job as an integrated team of medical planners, designers, engineers, researchers and visualization specialists is to design spaces that help patients heal, then we must increasingly be aware of how our choices directly affect quality and cost. By helping people – the caregivers – eliminate waste through Lean thinking and specifically Lean planning, healthcare organizations can reduce cost and increase quality of care, leveraging a relatively modest investment in facility assets. 

How does this impact the patient experience?

Value is measured ultimately by the consumer – the patient and family. Six Sigma Critical-to-Quality (CTQ) methods provide a quantitative structure for hypothesizing, testing and measuring design strategies. Other tools, such as full-scale and Virtual Reality (VR) mock-ups, allow us to test Lean concepts from the patient and staff perspectives in future spaces. By innovating around input strategies (such as work process, culture, technology, and the design of space), we can measurably improve outcomes directly correlated to the patient experience.

What will a Lean healthcare facility look like in the future?

Healthcare is moving away from fee-for-service to fee-for-outcome. This is a more holistic approach that considers preventive care, disease management, and education. It is about leveraging resources for the right intervention with the right care at the right location – and the right location will continue to evolve with disruptive technology and legislative reimbursement models.

Overall, we will see more consolidations and a continued shift from inpatient to outpatient services as consumers look for access at the local level, with more and more primary and specialty outreach services available where people live, work, and shop. With the shift to fee-for-outcome reimbursement, the quality and cost of service will become more transparent to consumers – offering more quality for less cost. Lean provides a simple philosophy and set of steps leading to original insight, creating enduring impressions on the thousands of caregivers, patients and families who pass through healthcare facilities annually.

Topics: Healthcare, Engineering