Monthly Archives: December 2015

4 Traits of a Dynamite Six Sigma Practitioner

4 Traits of a Dynamite Six Sigma Practitioner

Better organizational efficiency is a common goal across most industries. What business doesn’t stand to benefit from reducing administrative overhead, less consumption of resources, and fewer procedural defects? This hunger has led to the rise of the Six Sigma model of data-driven enhancements to infrastructure and methodologies of business practices. Experts in this field are Black Belts—yet often have unique and varied skill sets to meet various goals. Remember the following traits if you’re in the market for a Six Sigma process evaluator:

1. Business Comprehension

Six Sigma Black Belts must understand the procedures, imperatives, and goals of their industry. Projects based around improvement initiatives must be implemented by those who know where inefficiencies lie. Previous industry experience is helpful here, providing Black Belts with insight into where improvements can be made to increase a business’s competitive advantage.

4 Traits of a Dynamite Six Sigma Practitioner

What traits make for a dynamite siz sigma practitioner?

2. Interpersonal Skills

Aside from understanding the general principles that drive the industry, Black Belts must have a blend of personal and professional organizational skills. These begin with a positive, motivational attitude that telegraphs energy to other workers involved in improvement processes. Don’t underestimate the value of these soft skills—organizations who prioritize administrative ability over leadership and social aptitude find that their process evaluator rarely meshes well with the corporate culture they’ve created. This leads to inefficiency, resistance to change, and even resentment from other workers. Proper communication skills across oral and written fields are essential to project management.

3. Project Management Ability

But project management relies on more than just a charming personality. Certified Black Belts should have familiarity with Change Acceleration Process (CAP) tools to guide their decision making during the improvement process. These tools are a critical part of the Six Sigma business model of driving change, igniting financial commitments from stakeholders, and overall project governance.

4. Technical Ability

The wealth of analytics and data-driven initiatives present in today’s business world makes technical aptitude a necessary part of a Black Belt’s skill set. Familiarity with analytic and data management software tools like MS Excel, Minitab, or JMP provides evaluators with the technical tools they need to meaningfully extract and apply the data they find. Flawed technology is rarely to blame for inefficient project management; user error is usually the culprit when technology falls short. This makes a working knowledge of data analysis software an important part of maintaining efficiency for all project leads.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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Excess Data May be a Barrier to Quality Patient Care

Excess Data May be a Barrier to Quality Patient Care

In an effort to increase the diversity and outreach of their care, clinicians nationwide are integrating new payment models into their practices. Unfortunately, this increased variability of payment options is placing strain on physicians overwhelmed by the amount of data and changing patient expectations they must handle.

The Burden of Options

A 2015 joint study by the American Medical Association and the RAND Corporation on alternative payment models in healthcare found that increased physician burden was a common issue when changing procedure. Many practices must partner with other providers out of necessity to help both parties meet the budgetary demands of new payment models. While these payment options are intended to provide options to patients, improve quality of care, and reduce patient costs, practices are having difficulty altering their procedures to reflect the goals of these new payment strategies.
Excess Data May be a Barrier to Quality Patient Care
Unfortunately, the 2015 report revealed another potential setback: a wider variety of payment systems alone isn’t enough to ensure better patient care. New payment systems are a part of a comprehensive patient care strategy that relies on the support of the medical practice for its success. For new systems to affect patient satisfaction in a meaningful way, the payment model must align with the goals and procedures of the practice implementing it.

Payment models considered for use include episode-based and bundled payments, pay-for-performance, shared savings, retainer-based practices, and accountable care organizations/medical homes.

Cooperative Care

Though new payment structures for better patient care requires provider support, physicians agree that the switch to alternative payment models promotes collaboration and improved team-based care approaches to healthcare. Physicians expressed concern over alternative payment models, citing documentation requirements and large amounts of data as their primary worries. These administrative issues are being addressed with enhanced information systems capable of analyzing and reviewing large amounts of patient data, but physician practices still face the challenge of applying this information in an efficient way. Poorly handled data review can bog down procedure and reduce clinic performance.

Clinicians upgrading their payment systems must work with their staff, patients, and regulatory bodies to align their new payment procedures with the needs of the community they serve. When payment options become streamlined and clinic efficiency is improved, healthcare providers can focus on what matters most—increasing the time, attention, and care given to each patient in the practice.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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5 Ways to Ensure a Successful Process Evaluation

5 Ways to Ensure a Successful Process Evaluation

Process evaluations are a necessary part of keeping your business functioning at peak efficiency. Most businesses know that mapping this process is vital to its success, yet several common pitfalls can decrease the effectiveness of this effort. Remember the following guidelines to ensure that your process evaluation succeeds:

1. Involve people who do the work

Instead of trying to improve your processes based only on theory, include the actual employees who handle the processes each day. Their input can provide valuable insight into shortcomings to be improved, along with already effective areas better left untouched. Involving more individuals brings more minds to the improvement process and provides a sense of ownership to help facilitate any changes.

2. Map the entire process first

It’s human nature to want to resolve problems as they’re noticed, but don’t fall into the trap of trying to improve your processes before the entire framework is mapped. The big picture must be assessed before meaningful improvements are made. Track any errors that come up as the overall processes is reviewed and come back to make adjustments later.

5 Ways to Ensure a Successful Process Evaluation

3. Document online

Use online methods to track and document changes to the process evaluation. Digital files are easy to update and are discoverable by anyone with access—making it easier to involve everyone (as discussed in step 2) and keep the process current. Online storage also provides backups and digitally traceable records of progress over time to refer to if needed.

4. Make it flexible

Process evaluation is a fluid concept. As new information and data is revealed, the plan to optimize the process will change. Because of how malleable each evaluation typically is, keep your plan in an accessible and easily changeable environment. White boards in high-traffic areas can be ideal for this; let employees participate and keep the plan flexible.

5. Collect documents

The process evaluation depends on reliable information. Relevant documents related to your process help keep your improvement efforts informed with factual data. Collect documents, FAQs, and informational resources that offer insight on past performance. These files provide structure and ensure that any process adjustments follow established protocols.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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The Top 3 Considerations for Choosing a Process Consultant

The Top 3 Considerations for Choosing a Process Consultant

Keeping costs low is the cornerstone of business success. This goal relies on process—a streamlined, efficient system of standardized practices to guide your business decisions. But just having a set process isn’t enough to guarantee success. Inefficient processes can hurt you in the long run without any clues that better options are available. Many businesses that have learned this lesson the hard way are turning to process consultants who are trained to identify procedural inefficiencies in a business operation. When making this choice, keep the following factors in mind:

Cost of Service

Consultant fees vary based on who you work with and whether they’re part of a larger firm. There’s also the overall project timetable to consider—your consultant will likely need to spend weeks working with your team to determine the best way to optimize your processes. The long-term nature of this assessment coupled with the high fees of prestigious consultants is enough to scare away many businesses in need of a process evaluation.

The Top 3 Considerations for Choosing a Process Consultant

While it’s tempting to go with low-end consultants who offer cheap hourly rates, overall return on investment is more important than how much is spent per hour. Highly specialized consultants charge more, but usually perform efficiently and offer measurable returns on the work they do.

Skill and Competence

The process consultant needs to know what they’re doing to enact meaningful change; consultants are only effective if they understand the risks and challenges associated with your industry. Businesses that vet candidates based on cost may have an indication of the type of quality to expect here.

Your consultant should be experienced in both process consulting and the specific industry in which you work. Legal firms needing an assessment of their document review procedures will benefit little from a consultant who specializes in healthcare system management. Balancing this competency with your available budget is a difficult but necessary part of choosing an effective consultant.

Cultural Fit

There’s more to choosing the right consultant than skillset, though. The best consultant for your job will be one that fits well in your organization. Good teamwork is necessary for a successful process evaluation. Your employees are the ones who utilize your processes each day; your consultant must know how to communicate effectively with these team members and learn where inefficiencies are occurring. This type of individualized approach is essential to getting the most out of your process evaluation and seeing the procedural improvements that you need.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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mHealth: What’s In It For Doctors?

mHealth: What’s In It For Doctors?

Although not true for all practitioners—getting physicians to adopt new technologies is like getting people to leave their cars at home and take mass transit. Commuters want to see a clear benefit to taking the bus; “saving the planet” usually is too abstract. If it takes twice as long to get anywhere, and you can’t stop at the grocery on the way, you will stick to your car to get around. Likewise, doctors want to see how the effort and expense of yet another technology initiative will benefit them before they get on board.

Mobile health, or “mHealth,” is no exception. MHealth leverages mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablet computers, so that doctors can collect, store, and analyze health information more readily, and access applications that can assist with diagnosis or the selection of treatment options. It sounds great, and various mHealth technologies and applications are already making a difference in parts of the world that lack ready access to mainstream healthcare. But in industrialized nations, doctors—many of whom, according to a 2015 survey, are already dissatisfied with the environment in which they work—see mHealth as another expensive, time-consuming initiative with no immediate benefit.

mHealth: What’s In It For Doctors?

And they’re right. The value of an information system lies not in the amount of data in the system, nor the ease with which it got there, but the analysis and interpretation of the data—that is, the ability to gain knowledge and insight, and to decide from the data. The trouble is, it takes time to accumulate enough data to make meaningful inferences. Until that happens, mHealth is little more than a data entry tool, which many practitioners already have in some form or fashion.

So what can be done to get physicians to adopt mHealth?

Here’s a crazy idea: Ask the doctors. Find out where their pain points are—that is, what areas of seeing patients, understanding symptoms, performing tests, making diagnoses, and formulating treatments are too time consuming, too cumbersome, or too unreliable, and how technology could help find problems that the mobile platform is best suited to solve. Get the requirements and set up partnerships between the doctors and the app developers. That way, the physicians drive innovation that makes their working lives easier, rather than “innovation” driving them…up the wall.

(Granted, getting medical device software approved for distribution in the U.S. is an arduous task involving clinical trials and other regulatory hurdles, but at least the efforts would be towards something that will, upon release, have an immediate benefit.)

The idea is to give physicians solutions to their problems that take advantage of the mobile platform, to do things they can’t do well (or easily, or at all) with their current technologies. Small, focused solutions that make an immediate impact will see quicker adoption than large, expensive, ambiguous projects with little clear short-term benefit.

In this way, mHealth can get momentum and support from medical practitioners, and the medical community can work its way up to the comprehensive, integrated system that many mHealth proponents envision. It might take more time to get there, but the journey will be much more fruitful.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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The Connection Between Data and Patient Engagement

The Connection Between Data and Patient Engagement

Patient engagement is a growing trend in the medical field. Stage 2 meaningful use mandates that at least 5 percent of patients view, download, and transmit their own health data. Compliance with this standard is challenging for providers, but it reflects the emerging priority of patient involvement in the healthcare process.

Patient Engagement Benefits

Patients were once passive recipients of medical attention, with little interest or need in the data driving their physician’s decisions. However, as technology (in the way of electronic health records and patient portals) becomes more advanced, the medical industry is seeing the advantages of allowing patients to engage more fully in their care.

Data and Patient Engagement

Better patient involvement allows physicians to communicate with care recipients, and tailor treatments to their patients, promoting behavioral changes to improve health outcomes. On the patient side, better engagement usually means higher quality care, reduced care costs, and a positive sense of empowerment over their health status.

Data is the Key

Effective engagement involves coordination between provider and patient—with effective delineation of data and its role in the care process. Physicians use data to determine care options along with giving the patient the information to let them become a contributing member to their own care. Patient portals make this process easier than ever, with simple logins and easy to use interfaces that let patients monitor their health metrics as they’re updated by their physicians.

Though higher patient engagement has traditionally shown better health and cost outcomes across the board, involving patients in the care process is challenging. Many patients are stuck in the mindset of “receiving” care rather than “participating in” care. While this mindset is slowly being reversed with new generations of younger and more involved patients, patient portal adherence is still low. User-generated data is helping to reverse this trend, with more mobile devices and applications tracking and creating information on the patient’s own terms. While this technology is limited to basic wearable electronics, the concept allows patients to contribute to their own health records in a meaningful way.

Emergence of user-contributed health data is an encouraging sign in the healthcare industry. Better engagement is necessary, but is a multi-factorial process that must be addressed at a system-wide level. No single strategy is enough—clinicians and patients must work together to take control of the healthcare climate and communicate to determine the best care options possible.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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The 8 Steps to Better Business Innovation

The 8 Steps to Better Business Innovation

Everybody wants to be an innovator.

Innovation is the driving force behind successful businesses. This is true across every industry—thought leaders and agents of change drive scaling and development of enterprise. Unfortunately, creating innovative strategies is easier said than done. Corporate innovation is a more complex and challenging concept than mere optimization of practices; innovation requires a unique group of attributes applied in ways to drive creativity and manageable growth.

Business Innovation Attributes

How does a company innovate in a controlled and effective way? A 2015 report by McKinsey Quarterly identified eight attributes necessary for company innovation:

  1. Aspire – An organization must be motivated to enact innovative change. This requires models for innovation practices and assessments of how innovation will contribute to growth.
  2. Choose – Businesses must choose how they’ll innovate by investing in timely and feasible portfolios of initiatives. These resources must include clear themes for innovation and calculations of feasibility and risk assessment.
    The 8 Steps to Better Business Innovation

    Image Courtesy of lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  3. Discover – Innovation only occurs when unique insights are enacted in actionable ways. Businesses must have original organizational or technological visions that offer specific and fresh value to potential customers. This competitive advantage is critical to the success of innovation efforts.
  4. Evolve – Organizational growth relies on building new business models that have manageable scaling and can be maintained. Evolution of innovative practices involves trying new business models, understanding the changing value-chain economics, and diversifying profit streams.
  5. Accelerate – Quickness and efficiency of implementing new concepts and deploying initiatives is critical for innovation. Beating competitors to the punch can be the difference between innovation strategies that have significant market impact and those that have little demonstrable effect.
  6. Scale – Is the size and scale of your innovation appropriate to your market? Creating scale requires a go to market strategy and set procedures for operations after the strategy is enacted.
  7. Extend – Going outside your organization with strategic partnerships and collaborations helps broaden the outreach of innovation strategies. External networks offer support, resources, and competitive industry connections that augment developing practices.
  8. Mobilize – The workers enacting innovation are crucial to its success. Motivation and organizational plans for auditing help keep project milestones on track and offer insight into the best ways to produce repeatable results. This involves creating a corporate culture of empowerment and clear delineation of project priorities.

Dean Van Dyke iBridge LLC

Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization

Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

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Personal Device Security and Online Connectivity

Personal Device Security and Online Connectivity

Cybersecurity is typically associated with data privacy in large organizations—computer networks, encryption, and secured data transfer. However, our personal information is spread across more devices than many of us realize. Even seemingly, innocuous devices that have online connectivity can be vulnerable to outside access.

Fitness Breach

Security service AV-Test reviewed the security of nine fitness monitors across several brands—Acer, Fitbit, Garmin, Sony and Withings—to find that the lowest security devices suffered from nine of eleven possible security weaknesses, including inability to disconnect from Bluetooth and exposing user log information. While vulnerabilities like these seem insignificant compared to the large-scale data and privacy breaches that make headline news, the implications are troublesome for data security of personal electronics. These security weaknesses seem mild, yet they expose user devices to hacking, eavesdropping, and unauthorized data aggregation. Though fitness monitors and wristbands don’t contain copious amounts of sensitive information in how businesses do, they’re still exposed to unauthorized access that may cause data modification or losses.Personal Device Security

Implications and Connectivity

These mild weaknesses don’t offer serious threats to user privacy yet, but this will change as devices become more advanced and store more sensitive user data. The lack of security present in personal electronic devices sets a troubling precedent. Cybersecurity is difficult to implement, even for high-priority devices that contain privileged information. In the current state of our cybersecurity infrastructure, basic electronic devices aren’t likely to face the same security scrutiny as more advanced technology.

Security, particularly for personal devices, is an afterthought for many businesses. Implementing better security is costly—and often deemed unnecessary for equipment that records seemingly innocuous user data. However, several devices tested by AV-Test could not disconnect from Bluetooth—a concept designed to increase the operability of the device, yet it leaves users exposed to constant online access. Hackers are developing new ways to utilize exploits that will have increasingly detrimental effects on the state of our device security.

Connectivity and constant online connections are still relatively new in the technological world. While the full implications of this constant connectivity are not yet understood, it’s clear that device manufacturers must prioritize data security. Establishing acceptable security practices now will ensure that businesses have the means to upgrade their future security alongside their consumer technology.

Desh Urs iBridge LLC

Written by Desh Urs

As a Vice President of Global Sales, Services, and Marketing at Silicon Graphics, Inc., Urs managed engineering and non-engineering functions, developing solutions in sciences, telecommunications, manufacturing, media, business, and defense intelligence, for companies with revenues of several billion dollars. During his tenure as Vice President at Think Tools AG and Brio Technology, Inc., he ran business development and alliances providing solutions in Business Intelligence and Decision Cycle Management to Global 100 corporations worldwide. In the late 1980s, Urs founded Indus Systems, Inc., which he profitably sold to a systems integration company.

Urs serves on several Advisory Boards, as well as many company Boards, in the United States and India.

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