Continuous Improvement / LEAN


On average, as much as 70 percent of any process or system can be categorized as waste: activities that consume resources while producing no value. Waste can be observed in daily work processes and environments contributing to suboptimal care for patients, unnecessary costs, misallocation of Mission Partner time and overall loss of productivity. OSF HealthCare has mechanisms in place to aid in the identification of waste including Press Ganey patient feedback data, Mission Partner opinion surveys, manager rounding and analytic dashboards highlighting key performance indicators.



Partnering with OSF Mission Partners to identify opportunities for change, the Performance Improvement (PI) division employs LEAN methodologies to identify and eliminate waste. LEAN continuous improvement teams, managed by a PI practitioner, generate streamlined solutions through close observation, data collection, value stream mapping, cost analysis and iterative tests of change. LEAN empowers teams to identify, understand and remove waste improving the patient experience and supporting each Mission Partner in serving with the greatest care and love.


Performance Improvement has partnered with many teams across the ministry to reduce waste and contribute to the strategic goals of OSF HealthCare. Through the implementation of LEAN tools, teams have reallocated more than $75,000 in pharmaceutical supplies, reduced specific pre-op patient testing times by more than half, simplified coding and billing processes, streamlined warehouse processing and equipment delivery and more. Equipping Mission Partners across the Ministry, PI teaches LEAN methodology as a part of PI Lead training every January, May and September.

"Performance Improvement utilizing the LEAN methodology gives leaders the information they need to make informed decisions. PI Specialists and PI Leads are able to provide facts and validated current state analysis, bringing to light issues departments may not or could not be aware of without the help of a dedicated investigator and the observational tools facilitated by PI."
- Ginger Reynolds, Manager Performance Improvement

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Data-based decision making

The health care industry faces many challenges in delivering care and services to patients that are supportive and medicinal while remaining efficient and cost effective. LEAN focuses on eliminating or streamlining causes like unnecessary or redundant practices, regulatory constraints, waiting, queues, batching and many other factors. Waste can contribute to negative experiences, create delays in care and impact health outcomes for patients, hindering the ability of OSF Mission Partners to serve with the greatest care and love.

Performance Improvement, a part of OSF Innovation, works collaboratively across the Ministry to identify opportunities to more strategically and effectively utilize resources. LEAN is a methodology that empowers every Mission Partner to identify and eliminate waste as it affects or is experienced by those we serve. Often utilized within the scope of a 90-Day Rapid Improvement Model (RIM) charter, LEAN projects are typically identified by managers or leaders based on feedback from Mission Partners directly engaged in processes impacting the patient experience.

LEAN teams work closely with the process under review, conducting first hand observations and data collection on-site recording the exact time, steps, resources and Mission Partners involved in any activity. This detailed information is used to build a LEAN Value Stream Map — the most detailed and comprehensive map used by PI to visually show the various steps, fail points and areas of waste associated with any process. Producing a detailed visual outlining the exact cost of waste, PI Mission Partners can work closely with teams to eliminate unnecessary expenses and streamline processes.

Eliminating waste Ministry-wide

LEAN Projects have been deployed at facilities across the OSF Ministry reducing time and complexity of patient care as well as cost on internal processes, contributing to a better experience for those we serve. Data shows that when patients have a better experience, Mission Partner satisfaction also improves.

OSF Saint Anthony's Health Center - Pre-Operative Testing
Responding to patient feedback regarding the time and steps required to complete pre-operative testing, PI utilized LEAN spaghetti diagrams and process mapping to relocate testing equipment and streamline the admitting process. LEAN tools resulted in reducing pre-op testing from 135 minutes down to just 35 minutes and from 675 steps to 346.

OSF Saint Elizabeth Medical Center - Pharmacy LEAN and Improvement
Recognizing an opportunity to improve workflow and inventory allocation within the pharmacy space, SEMC employed LEAN Principles to redistribute $75,000 of excess inventory, increase inventory turnover to reduce bottlenecks and create a more efficient workflow to better serve patients.

"This project was extremely rewarding, not only financially, but from a Mission Partner engagement and workforce commitment standpoint everyone played a part in this."
- Charles George, Pharmacy Operations Manager, SEMC

OSF Home Care - Home Medical Insurance Verification
Identifying areas of waste related to over processing and rework leading to delays in delivery, PI worked with Home Care to develop a standardized LEAN process for insurance billing, precise staffing and delivery workflow. The project resulted in reduction of processing delays from holding work requests, streamlined dispatch and delivery and a simplified billing process helping Mission Partners and patients.

"This project removed a non-value added layer of oversight from the billing process. It also reduced the number of payor rules our Mission Partners had to follow in order to bill insurances accurately."
- Tom Williams, Director Home Medical Equipment