Clarifire Conversations

March 08, 2020

The Future of Waste Reduction in Healthcare

So what does reducing waste in healthcare mean?  Healthcare waste is defined as time, dollars, and services that do not add value - and can sometimes harm the patient.  What it means is achieving the nirvana of triple aim – better care, better health, and lower cost.

Despite efforts to control healthcare spending in the United States, costs continue to soar.  To combat healthcare costs on the rise, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) developed a Leadership Alliance Waste workgroup.  This group is made up of 54 healthcare organizations working together to develop a strategy to reduce waste in healthcare by 50% over the next five years.1  In this blog, we are taking a look at some of their most successful concepts and aligning them with innovative, executable strategies.

waste reduction in healthcare

Safety Events Drive Waste

To reduce harm and safety events, the call to action for the IHI group is to conduct ongoing reviews/internal audits on the safety and adverse events to identify opportunities to remove waste.  Also on the list is identifying strategic goals for enterprise-wide harm reduction.  Accomplishing this takes evidence-based, proven safety interventions, such as hourly nurse rounding.  The IHI endorsed hourly rounding as the best way to reduce call lights and fall injuries, citing a 50% reduction in patient falls once implemented.2  Another effective solution to prevent harm is the implementation of automated infection control audits to reduce patient-related HACs.  When implementing an Infection Control Automation Program, be sure your technology enables you to launch actionable exception processes based on audit fall-out. Don’t let your results be static—stop issues in real-time!

Reducing HAIs eBook

Managing Operational Waste

The emphasis for reducing operational workplace waste is for the IHI group’s hospitals to begin with creating “a culture of focus on the relentless pursuit of operational waste.”1  Other targeted areas planned to reduce operational workplace waste include creating less angst in work and improving operational efficiency through re-design.  So, what does that mean?  First, we know process improvement and streamlined workflow is good for everyone.  Improving workflow processes for caregivers also means increasing precious face-time with patients and making it easier to do just that. The operational visibility from standardized processes eliminates chart scouring and endless clicking to find data.  Allowing caregivers to do what they do best is a step in the right direction for creating improved engagement and happiness in the workplace!

Tackling Clinical Variation Waste

The opportunities for waste reduction with unnecessary clinical waste is abundant.  The IHI groups are planning to engage clinicians in activities that reduce unwarranted clinical variation as a strategy, but this can be a daunting task without the ability to influence physician behavior.  Clinicians are evidence-based individuals that require substantiated data to alter behavior. If you can find a workflow solution that provides immediate data and visual feedback that aligns with your organization’s protocols, you are one step ahead of the game. For example, when clinical pathways are standardized and automated, they can assess and deliver risk scores for discharge determinations. When adhered to, these scores directly correlate with patient outcomes. This promotes compliance to process, intelligent actions, and reduces clinical waste.

Care Empowered Through Workflow Automation

Your Staff is Your Best Knowledge Base

The plan to actively solicit ideas from staff and clinicians on waste is a great idea coming from the IHI.  This method for reducing waste includes training and engaging front-line staff.  Organizations should be sure to include the non-licensed staff in the feedback obtained.  Organizations can support them by providing the tools they need to create waste-reduction efforts by scheduling consistent idea-generation with huddles and teams. This strategy is best executed when standardized and automated. The meaningful communications from staff should be tracked and followed-up on with Leadership Rounding.  Leadership Rounding, also referred to as staff rounding, is a proven tactic for purpose-driven communication and a feedback loop with employees.  The bonus is that with a shortage of caregivers, this is a proven tool for reducing staff turnover and related costs.

Leadership Rounding eBook

An Engaged Leadership Team is a Waste-Free Organization

The IHI groups are incorporating waste-reduction strategies organization-wide with cascading plans of action.  The intent is to develop enterprise-wide visual oversight and governance to monitor efforts and outcomes. Spreading the message from the top down is the trick, but without technology, you won’t be able to measure adherence.  Here is where innovative technology can take organizations to the next level!  By standardizing and automating your best practices for safety, quality, and clinical pathways, you have ensured your organization’s success with rapid results.


Looking to tackle these challenges but don’t know where to begin?  Talk to our process improvement experts.  Our mobile application is easy to access, easy to use, and provides clients with an affordable and scalable solution that drives executive visibility and employee accountability.  Find out how our innovative workflow can help you take on one, two, or all of these challenges!

Contact us HERE to request additional information or a demo.


If you liked this blog, read these next!





Like this article? Feel free to share these tips with a friend or colleague!

Subscribe to Our Blog Updates!


Send us your comments!