Up Close: Kara Freihoefer, Ph.D.

Research specialist Kara Freihoefer, PhD, and process engineer Brent Peterson, PE, recently presented "Lean on Research: The Merge of Two Methodologies" at the 2015 Healthcare Design Conference, where they highlighted Lean strategies combined with Evidence-Based Design (EBD) research. Below, Freihoefer summarizes key takeaways.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF INTEGRATING LEAN INTO THE PLANNING PROCESS?

Lean is about creating efficient workflows and movement of people, processes, and products. When applied to healthcare facilities, Lean essentially approaches planning from the inside out by defining the flow of right processes and services first, and then designing the building with these refined processes in mind. By doing so, healthcare organizations are able to deliver care and services more effectively.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF INTEGRATING EVIDENCE-BASED DESIGN INTO THE PLANNING PROCESS?

Research approaches such as evidence-based design (EBD) link design characteristics to improved clinical outcomes, such as increased patient satisfaction or reduced patient fall rates. Making these connections has become increasingly important because healthcare organizations are now being evaluated on performance of clinical outcomes, which can impact reimbursements. By integrating EBD concepts with other empirical findings, healthcare organizations can enhance their facilities aesthetically and improve patient outcomes.

HOW CAN COMBINING THESE TWO STRATEGIES CREATE GREATER VALUE FOR HEALTHCARE ORGANIZATIONS?

Combining Lean and EBD provides a holistic process that focuses on operational improvement and clinical outcomes. Lean and EBD provide measurable objectives that allow owners to test the effectiveness of design and make goal-setting modifications as necessary.

Lean and EBD complement each other in several ways:

  • Design research enhances Lean exercises by providing reliable, systematic tools to data collection, such as gathering time-and-motion information or coding qualitative feedback from focus groups.
  • Critical to Quality (CtQ) Lean exercises categorize pre-design data into tangible formats that can be used as a decision-making tool in the design process. (A CtQ is a Critical physical or operational need identified through data analyses to produce a Quality clinical outcome).
  • Post-occupancy evaluations (POE) aid in completing the latter part of the Lean continual improvement cycle--plan, do, check, act. POEs can verify that processes are being implemented, hypotheses are being met, and quality outcomes are being achieved.

HOW CAN HGA DELIVER VALUE AS AN EVIDENCE-BASED DESIGN ACCREDITATION AND CERTIFICATION (EDAC) ADVOCATE FIRM?

We are building our knowledge-base by encouraging team members in our Healthcare Practice Group to take the EDAC exam, which tests knowledge and application of EBD. We recently took on the EDAC Advocacy Firm challenge to certify 25 percent of our team by spring 2016. By doing so, team members will be able to recognize opportunities to apply EBD concepts to inform the decision-making process.

Topics: Healthcare