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Surgery Supply, Instrument & Equipment Storage Reorganization Project


In trying to develop a meaningful blog, I decided that it makes sense for me to share the projects, opportunities, and insights that I have had throughout my career. I believe these topics apply to all areas of business, but when based in healthcare have even another layer of challenges. I will attempt to break these “projects” out in subsequent blogs to keep them short, simple and easy to follow.

In healthcare, surgery is one of those areas that change is an integral part of the job, with the necessity for speed and “delivery” for patient care being the top priority. It’s pretty common for many older hospital facilities to have a physical footprint where the department is antiquated with jumbled storage areas that developed as building structures were added to meet primary needs instead of just tearing it all out and starting over. Space in hospitals, especially in surgery – is at a premium with the number of surgery suites and other revenue producing areas being viewed as the higher priority. Adding additional procedural space and services has the extra impact of increasing storage space needs, but is often not well thought out which then causes every available nook and cranny to be stuffed with supplies, instruments, and equipment necessary to provide these valuable services. Another obvious challenge is that the staff working in these areas are healthcare workers – not storage experts so they just work with what they have – which means developing habits of memorizing storage locations without rhyme or reason with lots of hiding spots for those things they don’t want to run out of. Another variable is the age or longevity of the staff can often be a complication too because moving things can be perceived as slowing the process down when they need to get the task done as quickly as possible.

Identifying this situation and recognizing the need for optimization and standardization may seem like a no-brainer, but getting everyone on board to change it was a daunting task. For some reason accommodating cutting edge technology change into the daily workflow just wasn’t as scary as re-arranging the storage space especially when there were other areas involved such as materials management, sterile processing, facilities, etc.

  • Step 1 – Sharing the Vision: it is important to show value for time, money, and other resources which starts with leadership and continues through the ranks from the top to the bottom. I like to shoot for the moon because even reaching the stars can have major impact and helps people see what’s possible. It really only takes a couple of influential people to catch the vision to start the ball rolling.
  • Step 2 – Breaking it Down: large projects with overlapping dependencies can be overwhelming so it is important to have a plan and define a path. It was really important in this particular project to break out all of the smaller projects with projected timelines, resources, and expected outcomes. The plan typically evolves as the project progresses so it is important to share that opportunities to provide input throughout the project is not only okay, but expected to have an end product that everyone can be proud of. The plan must include elements of who, what, where, when, why to help people understand the journey.
  • Step 3 – Developing a Team and Ownership: this step also needs to accommodate workplace busy and slower periods so participation can be maximized. When the team is empowered by leadership and co-workers to develop the necessary changes; they are the cheerleaders, trainers and support the change after implementation which is key for sustainable change.

Stay tuned to track the progress of this project as I break out the various “smaller projects” so you can see what a success this project truly was when completed.