TRMC initiative improves processes, carves out costs

June 21, 2011 by Source

Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) has implemented a new initiative that officials say is significantly streamlining processes and recovering costs for the organization. The hospital’s F.O.R.G.E. Ahead initiative, using Lean Six Sigma principles, was launched last fall.

F.O.R.G.E. stands for Focus on Outcomes, Realized savings, Growth and Efficiencies. Lean Six Sigma is a business improvement model using statistical and analytical processes to measure and improve quality and production performance.

“Lean Six Sigma is a concept used by many other industries, but it’s fairly new to health care,” said William T. Richardson, TRMC president/CEO. “By adopting these principles, TRMC has been able to analytically review and enhance current procedures. While cost savings are a part of the goal, the greater piece is developing ways to get better outcomes more easily.”

Richardson added that national health care reform is shifting the medical landscape from fee-for-service to reimbursements based on outcomes and value, and the F.O.R.G.E. Ahead initiative is placing TRMC ahead of the curve.

All managers at TRMC have been engaged in the process, but 16 recently earned Green Belt status, the second level in Lean Six Sigma training and certification. The four levels include Yellow Belt, Green Belt, Black Belt and Master Black Belt. Green Belts are certified leaders capable of forming and facilitating project teams and leading Lean Six Sigma projects from start to completion. Some studies estimate that up to 30 percent of health care activities in the United States are not value-added activities; Green Belts are tasked with identifying these activities and closing the gap.

Examples of F.O.R.G.E. Ahead activities include green efforts, such as reduction of paper; more efficient clinical staffing; workflow enhancement; elimination of process redundancies; consolidation of certain work responsibilities; more efficient ordering and stocking of supplies; the removal of bottlenecks in department procedures; and, more.

“F.O.R.G.E. Ahead is not a project, but a larger cultural shift in the way managers view all processes within departments and across all areas at TRMC,” said Dennis Crum, TRMC vice president and chief financial officer.