Learning Together in a Spirit of Improvement

Our leadership team spends time working along side our people in an effort to learn more about what our customers value.  It is helpful for each one of us as we work on improvement projects to have an ‘on-the-job’ perspective of the process.  Some refer to this as ‘going to the Gemba.’  It involves examining the process of our work on behalf of our patients.  Hands-on or ‘going to the Gemba’ creates a better context and perspective for what really happens in the process we know as medical care. 

The word ‘Gemba’ in improvement language is used by the Japanese to describe this notion of examining closely.  It is derived from two Chinese words for which there is not an English equivalent.  ‘Gem’ or ’specific work’ … and ‘ba’ or ‘the place.’  The Gemba is any place where critical resources assemble and the flow of work contributes to those efforts that directly add value for the customer.  So we are looking closely and learning by observing those systems and processes directly related to a flow of work that adds value for the customer.

Recently in these blog postings, we have been sharing some of the experiences about this learning opportunity or ‘going to the Gemba.’  Below is a note from Bob Hinshelwood, Vice President of Patient Services.


This is a note about a recent Monday I spent job shadowing with Craig Larrimore, RN, in the Radiology Department to learn more about the work that he and his team do every day.  I spent most of the day with the team in Special Procedures and in the Pre- and Post-Procedure Recovery Areas.  Both patient care areas were busy that day performing a variety of radiologic procedures for patients.  I observed Dr. Lewis perform a ‘De-clot’ procedure and was impressed with the teamwork and the knowledge the team displayed working with Dr. Lewis, anticipating what supplies and instruments she would need to complete the procedure.  I saw Dr. Hill help a child who needed an invasive procedure. The young patient  was accompanied by his mother, who also appeared a bit apprehensive. Despite the crying and fear that any child would have, the procedure was successful and both mom and child were pleased.  Craig was also needed across the street in the McLeod Plaza in CT to help with a catheter that was clogged.  With his past experience and strong fingers he unclogged the catheter and the patient was relieved. 

Bob in Radiology

McLeod Radiology Staff Members Johnny McGee and Craig Larrimore indicate on a monitor for Bob Hinshelwood what is occuring during a patient's procedure.

Overall, it was just a great day to see people work together to help patients who really trusted them to do their job well.  Thanks to everybody who put up with me that day.  I had a fun time.  I learn each time I work in direct patient care with our team.  A special thanks to Craig.

Bob Hinshelwood
Vice President of Patient Services

Customers have the final say as to the quality of our output.  If you want to know if you are doing a good job, ask the customers.  They alone know.  The output of our services is the only output of which our systems, processes and methods are currently capable.  In the ‘Spirit of Improvement,’ we want to have the best possible outcome for patients … so we must continue to create better systems, processes and methods. Learning directly from our team and our customer is an important part of improvement.


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