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Discovering the “Cost of Current Quality” (COCQ) in a Family Medicine Practice

When asked to identify the most difficult, problematic, and least-liked process in the practice, St. John’s Family Medical Associates staff named the processing of patient forms (work-comp forms, disability forms, school physical forms, etc.) as the most troublesome. To reduce the physician and staff time required for completion of patient forms, improve throughput time, reduce staff stress resulting from dealing with dissatisfied patients, and demonstrate the value of process improvement tools in a medical practice, an improvement team created a value stream map of the current process, identifying waste, redundancies, and delays, or the “Cost of Current Quality.” Practice staff then received instruction in the use of process improvement tools for waste reduction and dramatically improved the process. The net return on investment of the effort was $90,000, and staff and physicians were eager for more improvement.

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