By staying open-minded in everything we do, we can find new ideas and ways to make things better.
Everyone can innovate so long as we are constantly donning our thinking caps. We need to think out of the box to develop new solutions that improve work processes, increase efficiency and reduce cost.
Increasing efficiency with improved work processes
Co-leading a team of fellow CSSD nurses, we introduced a series of measures and improvements to the workflow. A periodontal probe which cost $18 each has to be discarded if its fragile pointed tip breaks. Our team took a month to implement an improved process and successfully reduced the median number of breakages per week at CSSD from nine to just two, amounting to cost savings of $6,552 annually.
We have informed fellow CSSD nurses to only place four periodontal probes on an instrument tray and not to mix them with other instruments. By broadening the surface area of the silicone mat and placing the instrument tray on it, the instruments were able to withstand the high water pressure in the washer and unnecessary movement by the instruments was reduced, hence minimising breakage. We also educated our staff on ways to handle the instruments with care.
At CSSD, time management is always a challenge. In addition to providing instruments for the Specialist Outpatient Clinics, our department focuses on the cleaning, inspecting, sterilising and packing of instruments, and ensures that the washer disinfector, steam steriliser and auto loader are in working order.
Designing workflow to reduce manpower and utility costs
Another project that I co-led in my two years with the CSSD was to streamline the process of cleaning equipment trolleys. Previously, there were no dedicated trolleys for clean and used equipment, and every trolley was washed after use. Every cycle of trolley washing process consumes 320 litres of water and a staff has to wipe the shelves and trolley canvas dry. We improved the workflow by having dedicated trolleys which were deployed in a designated lift for the used equipment. Now trolleys containing soiled equipment are washed once daily, while the trolleys containing the clean instruments are washed monthly.
The team was able to save on both manpower and utility costs. The daily washing of trolleys is reduced from eight to two cycles, saving 499,000 litres of precious water yearly, which is equivalent to around 20% of an Olympic-sized pool.
The reduced frequency of washing has enabled us to prolong the life span of the trolley canvas, which costs $1,200 each. The reduction of six cycles also decreased the frequency of having to wipe dry a trolley which takes 10 minutes, saving us 260 man-hours per year.
We have leveraged technology to improve our work processes and made work more effective and convenient. We are now able to provide the items to the clinics much faster....
Communication empowers great teamwork
I am grateful to have received tremendous support from my team of nurses while implementing these new work processes. Changes takes time, effort and education. We constantly engage our staff by encouraging them to communicate ideas openly and hearing their points of views.