A Nordic work environment complement to Value Stream Mapping (VSM) for sustainable patient flows at hospitals – A NOVO Multicenter study
Paper in proceedings, 2012
The Nordic Council of Ministers (NCM) granted 2007-09 a project with the aim to establish and develop a Nordic Network for scientists regarding research on work environment and efficiency in the health care sector (‘the NOVO network’). The vision is a “Nordic Model for sustainable systems” in health care. A “Sustainable system” is here defined as the joint consideration of competitive performance and working conditions in a long-term perspective (Westgaard & Winkel, 2009, 2011). A preliminary project plan for a Nordic Multicenter project focusing a specific aspect of the vision was developed as part of the above mentioned NCM project. This was entitled: “A Nordic work environment complement to Value Stream Mapping (VSM) for sustainable patient flows at hospitals – A NOVO Multicenter study”.
Development of production systems in healthcare is at present to an increasing extent based on Lean Production ideas. In the Lean terminology “value-adding work” (VAW) represents the portion of process time that employees spend on actions that create value as perceived by the customer (Liker 2004). The complementary part is “non-VAW” or “waste” as the general Lean term of non-value-adding activities.
In healthcare VSM is a common Lean tool used to identify and minimize waste (Keyte & Locher, 2004). It is a participatory tool, i.e. those affected by this type of rationalization are performing the analyses and subsequently suggesting the interventions. Participation has been shown to be crucial to obtain ownership of the suggested interventions and thereby increase impact. In addition, VSM has been shown to be a powerful rationalization tool. However, the resulting interventions may imply physical work intensification and impaired psychosocial work environment if the proportion of VAW is increased and management issues are not properly considered. In the rationalization process both physical and psychosocial working conditions should therefore be integrated to obtain a competitive performance in a long term perspective. In practice, this is rarely done. Thus, health of the employees and system performance goals often end up on a collision course with short-term performance demands as the winner (e.g. Winkel & Westgaard 1996, Westgaard & Winkel 2011).