Why Should We Care? From Shadowing to Success

What is shadowing? Shadowing is a process improvement method with the aim to improve organizational efficiency, morale, and client experience, where a third party or member of the organization observes the process and interactions and aims to experience the scenario through a patient or clinician view. Shadowing does this through collecting both qualitative and quantitative data. Quantitative data has been the universal data collection method, but numbers and figures alone can not capture the entire message. Nuance exists in qualitative data, which better aids in the diagnosis and treatment of the problem. Quantitative data can show which area of the appointment (wait room, exam room, imaging, patient education, scheduling, checkout) patients spend the most time in. This coupled with qualitative data, such as whether the patient arrived early, on time, or late to the appointment, complexity of the appointment, or if there is a shortage of staff, allows for a holistic picture of the scenario. Numerical figures, although an important indicator of change, lack the nuance to fully describe the problem. 

The first step to improvement is recognizing the improvement objective. This becomes the guiding question throughout the shadowing process. Before talks of initiatives, shadowers will begin by collecting existing data to establish a starting point. This allows the team to have a starting point to work from and a solid metric to compare future metrics. As the initiative is developed and rolled out, they can be measured and compared to the starting point. As the rollout progresses and potential progress points surface, the milestones can be amended accordingly, and the initiative plan itself can be altered. The unique aspect of incorporating shadowing into an improvement plan is the frequent checkup that would otherwise be challenging. This makes the plan more flexible and easily adapted to the ever changing healthcare environment. The data collected from initial shadowing, follow-ups, and at the conclusion of the improvement plan can be arranged to better understand the problem. Data collected during the initial shadowing phase can be organized into visualizations such as graphics depicting a comparison between wait times, charts comparing in which area of the appointment patients spend the most time, and in a classic bar graph visualting how much time is spent waiting compared to the amount of time spent with a clinician. With the information collected improvement plans created from the data will be tailored specifically to the needs of the organization and serving its stakeholders. 

The power of collecting, visualizing, and enacting the data collected through shadowing allows organizations to effectively diagnose, treat, and monitor the areas of improvement. 

For more information about goShadow and its suite of tools or to get support for your next patient or staff initiative, contact info@goshadow.org 

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Posted on

October 14, 2022