Industrial Engineering

POP quiz: What Are the Right Questions in Hospitals?

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ISE Magazine – Volume 48: Number 05
By Alex Bohn

In manufacturing facilities, there is a plethora of daily information to consider in achieving optimal performance. Questions like “Are any machines down for repairs?”and  “Are there any high priority or special orders that I need to account for?” are commonly heard before starting work. Healthcare facilities, in a sense, are no different than manufacturing facilities, albeit with a patient-care focus. However, many healthcare facilities have not identified or implemented such a standard set of questions.

Performance and order prioritization (POP) huddles are a framework for diagnostic departments in hospitals to address efficiency barriers and prioritize patient services on a daily basis. Attended by all department staff, the huddles have two main components. The first is performance, where huddle participants address departmental efficiency and logistical or challenges. The second is order prioritization, where huddle participants review outpatient schedules, inpatient orders and resources to decide which orders to prioritize.

All diagnostic departmental impediments are categorized into:

  1. Machines and equipment: broken machines or low supply
  2. Staffing: schedules of unavailable staff members
  3. Procedures: list and schedules of resources and equipment for procedural departments

POP huddles can help to create a specific priority hierarchy as seen in the figure below. However, one must consider system wide factors in creating the hierarchy so no department will be a bother to others while trying to optimize their departments’ schedule. Minor adjustments can be made along the way as unforeseen variabilities are to be expected in healthcare facilities.