Shadowing Helps you Identify Areas for Improvement

What is shadowing?

Shadowing is the direct, real-time observation of patients, staff, or products as they move through experiences in any setting. The objective and subjective details of the way patients and families, customers or products move through and view their experiences are essential to the creation of a 360° experience blueprint.

Shadowing is an essential tool for improvement and discovery, used to benchmark current best practices and monitor the success of improvement initiatives.

4 Steps of Shadowing

Set a goal and determine project start and end points. Gain buy-in from frontline staff and administrative leaders by walking the pathway to introduce shadowing and ask for initial feedback about the pilot project. Consider the strategic priorities of the organization and understand where there is interest in shadowing to improve an experience or service line and/or to spread best practices.

Don’t waste the goodwill of excited staff and administrators. Take the time to methodically develop data collection protocol and next steps. Do informal walkabouts to gather frontline staff perceptions about the current state of the process, what works and what could be improved. Document the approach and communicate with team members and stakeholders regarding the shadowing plan, timeline and how findings will be disseminated. Building will among staff and patients will pay dividends.

Determine how many shadowers will be needed to execute the project effectively. If the scope of the project is large, such as a surgical experience, break the experience down into smaller segments. Shadow the segments one at a time. They don’t need to be shadowed in order.  If the goal is to segment an office practice or day of surgery experience, decide if the team involved is going to shadow individual patients 1:1 or if they’re going to shadow the patients and staff according to segment. This will determine the volume of data and how templates can be utilized within goShadow. There is no correct method. Don’t forget that the system of care delivery is what is being observed and not specific individuals. Recognize that the system is the same 80% of the time; identify potential outliers and denote those in goShadow for future review.

Using goShadow real-time reporting, look for data confluence. Once the team observes trends (in time, process or otherwise), the team should report on their findings–qualitative and quantitative–and make recommendations for next steps. Communicate plans and results to the team and stakeholders involved so that they can see their feedback and ideas documented. Celebrate the small wins and milestones that are achieved as a result of the project. Keep a list of future projects as suggested by staff, patients or administrators. In order to defy project inertia, assessment of aims and goals and re-shadowing to measure if a change results in an improvement and to identify future shadowing projects is critical.

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