I received a survey in the mail this past week from a local physician with whom we have dealt several times. The survey asked for input on how to improve the physicians practice and I will admit I was initially impressed and encouraged by this attempt at capturing feedback directly from patients.
Upon completion of the survey however I was stunned to note a small caption on the bottom of the last page: “Last updated May 2004.”
Now presumably this was not an exercise in paper, but was intended to provide useful feedback to the doctor in order to improve his patients care. Is it not reasonable however to expect that the doctor’s practice, patient demographics and general working environment have changed in the last 8 years?
This is unfortunately another example of a failed attempt at Continuous Improvement. As with many failed attempts, meaning of the word “continuous” appears to have been misinterpreted relative to it’s fundamental importance in ensuring a successful outcome of the process. More specifically in this example, garbage in (in the form of an old outdated survey) will result in garbage out (meaningless information that will provide little to no value towards improving the physician’s practice).
I have outlined below the model we use to represent a true cycle of continuous improvement. Give thought to how this model applies in your continuous improvement efforts today. If you are unable to identify how each of the 5 steps are applied in sequence, your CI model is either incomplete or weak at best.