Improving patient care by making small sustainable changes: a cardiac telemetry unit's experience

Nurs Econ. 2007 May-Jun;25(3):162-6.


With the introduction of each new drug, technology, and regulation, the processes of care become more complicated, creating an elaborate set of procedures connecting various hospital units and departments. Using methods of Adaptive Design and the Toyota Production System, a nursing unit redesigned work systems to achieve sustainable improvements in productivity, staff and patient satisfaction, and quality outcomes. The first hurdle of redesign was identifying problems, to which staff had become so accustomed with various work arounds that they had trouble seeing the process bottlenecks. Once the staff identified problems, they assumed they could solve the problem because they assumed they knew the causes. Utilizing root cause analysis, asking, "why, why, why," was essential to unearthing the true cause of a problem. Similarly, identifying solutions that were simple and low cost was an essential step in problem solving. Adopting new procedures and sustaining the commitment to identify and signal problems was a last and critical step toward realizing improvement, requiring a manager to function as "teacher/coach" rather than "fixer/firefighter".

MeSH terms

  • Colorado
  • Coronary Care Units / organization & administration
  • Coronary Care Units / standards*
  • Efficiency, Organizational*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Problem Solving
  • Systems Analysis
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Telemetry*
  • Total Quality Management / methods*