Jumping in with both feet – Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference 2013 review

By Mark Biscone, Ph.D., FACHE Designate
Health Systems Specialist
Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center

2013 marked my 2nd SHS Healthcare Systems Process Improvement Conference and I jumped in with both feet, cohosting a preconference workshop, giving a seminar, lunch and learn table host, serving as a mentor for multiple students, writing and co-judging the inaugural student case student competition, and serving as a track chair. It certainly was a busy and memorable one!

Like the previous year, I found the conference extremely worthwhile, offering invaluable time to network and talk with others working on systems engineering issues in healthcare. The practical lessons learned and actual project results provided additional data and personal resources for various approaches and improvement areas, stimulating new thinking and spurring potential symbiotic arrangements.

I had the opportunity to co-host a tabletop exercise utilizing Lean concepts in tackling issues in patient flow through Surgery. I have done a few of these in the past and find that they can demonstrate Lean tools and techniques in easy to understand ways with practical examples.

I enjoyed giving my talk, speaking with students, and networking with old friends and new contacts. I especially enjoyed the Student Case Competition.  It was a surprise that writing a case was harder than I had naïvely predicted. The challenge was to provide enough data and info to address a specific problem without leading the groups down a specific path or making potential solutions obvious. I think we struck a good balance, with two groups tackling the problem with enthusiasm and sophistication. I am excited to expand this program in future conferences and wished I had more experience participating in case study competitions.

All in all, the conference went by in a blissful blur leaving me already hungry for next year!

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