VA

Slashing Response Times

CLIENT

A large U.S. institution that operates one of the nation’s largest health care systems was not meeting federal requirements calling for executive correspondence response to be provided within 14 to 30 calendar days of each inquiry. The median response time was 43 days, with a typical range of 28 to 65 days. In addition, interviews with agency leaders found that the quality of responses was often poor. Agency leadership set a clear direction with non-negotiable goals and named an improved relationship with stakeholders as a high priority. The executive correspondence process directly affects that relationship.

CHALLENGE

Kairos Worldwide was engaged to conduct a Lean Six Sigma study to develop a “future state process” that consistently would meet or better the 14-to-30 day performance standard. An extensive, baseline analysis of fiscal year 2014 data confirmed that the extended response times were not isolated to the administration or staff of a single health care facility. Early interviews with senior leaders and advisors across the Department verified that delays were the result of a complex, inconsistent and inefficient “current state” process. Concerns about the quality of the responses to patients also surfaced during these interviews.

METHODS

After Kairos Worldwide provided training on the Lean Six Sigma methodology, an internal project team—representing senior leadership, staff offices and the administrations across the health care system—developed a streamlined, simplified future state process for executive correspondence.

RESULTS

  • The estimated response time for the new process is 7 business days (10 calendar days) for simple letters and 17 business days (24 calendar days) for more typical complex letters.
  • A prototype of the future state process was launched within 10 weeks to validate the expected improvements and refine the process for long-term sustainability.
  • Thirteen responses were completed during the 30-day evaluation period.
  • The early results from the completed responses are encouraging, with an average response time of 15.5 calendar days.
  • The consensus among project team members is that quality of responses has improved.