At Mainspring Healthcare Solutions we believe you can’t fix the healthcare system until you fix hospital operations. Just as it is in patient care, it takes a unique approach to improve hospital operations; there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The foundation of the Mainspring approach is in lean methodologies, which have been around for a long time in manufacturing and technology, but have only made it into hospitals in the last few years in any big way. What I mean by lean is getting into the hospital and really understanding the workflow and the issues that the hospital is having in specific areas, and then fixing that workflow—getting to the root cause.
It means standardization, centralization and streamlining to get the waste out of the system, it means error-proofing to make it hard to mess up; these are the fundamentals of getting hospital operations in order. Also, making sure that when something needs to happen like providing support to staff or a patient, that there’s a closed-loop system in place to make it happen. If the need isn’t met when and as expected, the right people find out immediately so they can correct the situation. They can manage by exception.
While lean workflow is extremely effective, automation of that workflow takes hospital operations to a whole new level of ease and efficiency. Mainspring has a very robust workflow management platform that gives us the ability to take optimized workflow and constrain it, to make sure that hospital staff are actually following the workflow and maintaining that closed-loop process. By doing that, you have a high level of confidence that the work is getting done when it is supposed to be getting done, and in accordance with whatever service levels and promises you made to your clinical staff. It’s empowering having a real-time visibility into your workflow. Everyone knows what’s going on, everyone can see who is requesting what and know who’s fulfilling those requests across the organization. Just like when you click buy on Amazon; you get real-time feedback and you know your order has been received, your credit card has been charged and your order has been picked from the shelves and put on a truck and it’s in St. Louis on its way to your door. That’s what Mainspring Healthcare Solutions does for hospital operations—and it works. It works in small rural hospitals, 1000-bed teaching hospitals and multi-site IDNs with thousands of operational staff.
Real World Results
Let me give a real world example of what that means for our customers. Medical University of South Carolina is two-hospital system with a 700-bed Level 1 trauma center and a smaller facility across town. MUSC had an issue with providing surgical instruments and trays in a timely manner from a centralized sterilization center. This resulted in delayed OR procedures on a regular basis. What had happened over the years is that process had broken down. Nobody had accountability across the request-fulfill process. The nursing and administrative staff in the smaller hospital’s ORs felt like they weren’t being serviced appropriately and their requests weren’t being fulfilled. On the other side, the sterile department had decided that clinicians and department administrators were hoarding and requesting things they didn’t need, “just in case”. This reduced the amount of inventory available in the system, which in turn created instrument shortages that made it difficult to fulfill requests when they came in. The poor guys in the middle were the couriers driving stuff from place to place; they were getting an earful of complaints from both sides. Let’s just say nobody was very happy. This is the scene that Mainspring came into with our workflow solution. We streamlined the process based on actual demand, then made it very easy to make requests and track them in real-time. We gave the couriers the tools they needed to quickly assess needs and respond to them. Most importantly, we created a closed-loop process with real-time visibility into the entire process. These changes quickly created a situation where folks could be held accountable. Behaviors changed. Trust was built between the different groups and OR delays due to instrument shortages largely went away.
This is just one story from one department in one hospital. Mainspring is fixing operational workflow across support services in over a thousand hospitals. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about EVS improving bed turns, eliminating lost lab samples or making sure that the little girl in room 302 gets the toy her parents requested. It all comes down to accountability and trust. Mainspring helps hospitals build that culture with lean workflow, closed-loop automation and real-time visibility.