Streamlining how we work improves patient experience

Streamlining how patients access their health care providers – from the first encounter to the myriad details for overall operations – could greatly impact patient satisfaction and quality care.

That’s why USF Health is implementing a process improvement program that will help clinical and operational staff work more efficiently, both individually and collectively, all with the goal of making great patient experiences at every point along a patient’s journey with USF Health providers.

As a first step, USF Health clinical and operational teams recently took part in a workshop focused on optimizing workflow of staff and fine tuning the steps patients take as they navigate our clinics.

USF Health employees participate in a workflow exercise at the South Tampa Center. From left, Evany Dera, a regional nurse manager-satellites; Joe Kirkner, a clinic manager; Dr. Anvm Ahmed; Erica Rabeav, a front desk and financial supervisor at the Morsani Center third floor; Sally Abner, RN, clinical nurse manager, who talks about patients’ time in a procedure room.

The workshop incorporated a method called Lean to improve organizational efficiency. Lean is a set of philosophies and methods for operating at the most efficient level to maximize value and quality of care for patients. It reduces waste, and could improve waiting times for patients.

The workshop included experts from the Virginia Mason Institute to teach Lean Methodologies to several dozen USF Health team members, including RCO staff, facilities management, nurses, medical assistants, and providers.

“We are essentially investing in inter-professional team learning and improvements to deliver the best quality care for our patients,” said Terri Ashmeade, MD, MS, CPHQ, chief quality officer for USF Health and associate dean for Continuing Professional Development.

“Using Lean methodologies and creating effective workflow processes, we are able to better serve our patients. It’s a process improvement that creates cross-functional teams that will allow us to become more efficient and effective in providing patient care.”

The idea, she said, is that everyone in the organization is incorporating these patient-centric ideas in every day workflow.

“The primary goal is to eliminate anything that does not add value for patients,” Dr. Ashmeade said.

Process Improvement is the proactive task of identifying, analyzing and improving upon existing business processes within an organization for optimization and to meet new quotas or standards of quality. The effort continually asks in every process how efficiently resources are being used and what value is being added for the customer. Lean frequently includes a system called 5S, standing for sort, sweep, simplify, standardize, and sustain/self-discipline.

The Lean program at USF Health is part of a larger effort to provide a better patient experience and improve quality of care.

“Because of its focus on understanding and optimizing the role of each member of the team , I think this training aligns nicely with several USF strategic initiatives, specifically inter professional learning and practice, and our cultural transformation goals around continuous learning and improvement,” Dr. Ashmeade said.

“In the end,” she said, “it’s about making life better for patients.”

Kim Clifford, director of Clinical Operations, explains the effective use of daily work huddles for clinical teams.

USF Health Cardiologist Dr. Bibhu D. Mohanty also took part in the tour.


Family Medicine’s Dr. Karim Hanna was part of the workflow tour.


Photos by Freddie Coleman and Allison Long, USF Health multimedia journalists.