Innovating in the virtual space

Bringing people together to work on improving health care services is already a heavy lift. But doing this during a pandemic – when people are encouraged to socially distance – can be even more challenging.

The Performance Improvement (PI) team at OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Medical Center is facing this obstacle as they create a comprehensive medical weight loss program for the Metro region.

“We want to develop a center of excellence where individuals can receive best-in-class solutions for medical weight management,” said Cecelia Roesch, a PI specialist for the Metro region. “That means merging our surgical and non-surgical services into one cohesive program.”

The PI group tapped leaders across the Ministry to participate in virtual design sessions that will bring this concept of a best-in-class program to fruition. The PI team was agile in their approach to optimize leader support of the program’s vision.

While PI learned how to meet and brainstorm safely for the pandemic, these innovative efforts can be adopted permanently to help leaders collaborate across a variety of settings to meet the needs of patients and communities.

Getting the most out of virtual design sessions

There are two phases of this project. The first ended with establishing a physical space to house the medical weight loss program. The second focuses on creating the overall programming. Design sessions for these types of efforts are typically done in person.

“With about 25 Mission Partners from different disciplines and locations helping with this work, we had to figure out the logistics of running these sessions virtually in a seamless way,” Cecelia said. “This included finding ways to incorporate tools PI has successfully used during in-person design meetings.”

PI researched, tested and employed the use of Microsoft Teams for the design sessions. Using a sticky note tool within the platform’s digital breakout rooms, the team gathered feedback from participants on the qualities of best-in-class medical weight loss institutions. That allowed PI to determine what they needed to address and brought understanding and insight to the needs of those OSF serves.

“These tools are very easily adapted to small or large groups and are a fun, interactive way to introduce Mission Partners to Performance Improvement tools,” said Paige Fairfield, a PI specialist for Ministry Performance Improvement.

The group also used the question, ‘How Might We…?’ to identify known challenges and drive solution generation via brainstorming. Once all of the concepts were created, PI used a form of affinity mapping to quickly identify themes that emerged as part of that exercise. Affinity mapping brought the top solutions to the surface.

“Our Mission Partners were clear that world-class facilities should include great communication skills between colleagues and the people we serve, transparent plans of action for patients, accessibility, understanding and education,” Cecelia said. “The design session experience gave me a better understanding of how to build the best program we can.”

With more insight into what’s needed to create a best-in-class medical weight loss program, the PI team will work with their project team to further design and develop the many ideas inspired by the design session. This includes exploring meal replacement options and preparing the right equipment that will be needed for patients.

This process will begin by developing a current state map to identify opportunities between what’s happening now and what’s expected in the future.

“We were extremely pleased with how well our design sessions were conducted for our medical weight loss programming given our COVID-19 in-person restrictions,” said A.J. Querciagrossa, chief executive officer of the Metro Region. “The PI team did a fantastic job facilitating breakout sessions that were just as, if not better, than being together in one room.

“The use of Microsoft Teams helped us keep on task and provided a seamless platform for the engagement. We are hoping to replicate these sessions in other PI work moving forward.”

Collaboration is key

OSF Little Company of Mary made it a priority this year to create a comprehensive medical weight loss center to better meet the needs of patients in the metro area. PI has brought the facility closer to achieving this goal by leveraging performance improvement tools and digital platforms to continue collaborating – even when people can’t be in the same room.

“We researched and learned everything we could about our video conferencing platform before holding our design sessions,” Cecelia said. “We also enlisted Mission Partners to learn the technology, so they could facilitate group conversations. Overall, we now have a process in place as well as a guide to continue our innovative efforts virtually.”

Last Updated: August 17, 2021

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About Author: Denise Molina-Weiger

Denise Molina-Weiger is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since March 2015. She initially came to OSF to write about the work taking place at the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, one of the world’s largest simulation and innovation centers and went on to become the Media Relations Coordinator for OSF Innovation which was developed to help the hospital system lead the way in transforming care.

Before joining the OSF HealthCare team, Denise was a reporter for Peoria Public Radio for ten years, writing on everything from politics, housing and transportation issues to hospital care in the region. She earned her bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting from Western Illinois University in 2003 and received her master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2004.

Denise lives in West Peoria with her husband, son and two crazy dogs. In her spare time, she likes to snuggle on the couch with her family and watch cooking shows on Netflix. She loves taking road trips with her family and then complaining about it when they are over.

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Categories: Innovation