Kaizen events are winning favor in a growing number of laboratories and hospitals. These events-typically several days to one week in duration-provide a simple, fast platform to drive significant improvement in clinical services and operational performance.

At the Carolinas HealthCare System (CHS) in Charlotte, North Carolina, the laboratory used a Kaizen event to implement major improvements specifically to the laboratory outreach intake operations in the pre-analytical area of the lab. Following just a few days of planning and implementation, the CHS laboratory achieved a substantial reduction in processing time and an equally dramatic reduction in errors and mishandling of outreach specimens.

“Kaizen” is the Japanese word that describes continuous improvement. A Kaizen event consists of three steps. During step one, a cross-disciplinary team of knowledgeable participants in the laboratory or hospital is identified and, prior to the Kaizen event, each individual is asked to study a particular work process or operational problem that will be the target of the Kaizen event. Step two brings this cross-disciplinary team together for several days or one week. During this time together, the team analyzes the situation, identifies opportunities to improve, implements the recommendations, and fine-tunes the changes. Step three is to sustain the improvements achieved during the Kaizen event.

Kaizen events are appealing to many laboratories and hospitals for a simple reason: the concentrated effort invariably produces powerful results that require only a few days to achieve. Another attractive aspect of the Kaizen event is that the lab can bring in an experienced consultant to lead the event and get a big outcome for a small outlay.

Lab managers and pathologists interested in learning how to use Kaizen events will have the opportunity to hear Tom Hassett, Vice President at Carolinas HealthCare System discuss his lab’s successes with this lab management tool in a session titled “Kaizen Event Project Transforms Lab Outreach Intake and Accessioning.” Hassett’s session will be one of several presentations about Kaizen events at the upcoming Lab Quality Confab, scheduled for September 24-25, 2008, at the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. Experts from Beckman Coulter Corporation will conduct a management master class titled “Using Kaizen Bursts to Improve Performance, Simplify Workflow, and Slash Costs,” providing the essential knowledge needed to successfully use Kaizen events in the laboratory and the hospital.

In addition to Kaizen events, more than 50 presentations at Lab Quality Confab will provide lab managers and pathologists with opportunities to learn and master all aspects of Lean, Six Sigma, and rapid process improvement. With growing numbers of labs and hospitals accelerating their use of Lean and Six Sigma, Lab Quality Confab is the perfect resource for knowledge, networking, and the latest lab case studies. Last year, more than 275 attendees from seven countries participated, making this the world’s largest conference devoted to rapid process improvement in laboratories and hospitals. To see topics, speakers, and all the events at Lab Quality Confab, visit http://www.labqualityconfab.com
To register, visit http://www.labqualityconfab.com/register.htm

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