Through its unique and innovative 100-day workout model — a pilot project-turned-success that asks employees to spend 100 days making two changes a month to the status quo of how they operate — Henry Ford West Bloomfield (Michigan) Hospital has boosted staff engagement and morale, empowered non-traditional leaders and improved cross-functional problem solving.  

The 191-bed hospital with more than 1,800 employees has spent the past few years creating a culture of change to achieve those desired results. With the help of consultants and now in-house team members, leaders at the hospital meet regularly with the executive team to better understand the hospital’s most pressing issues. To address them, staff across various departments are assigned to a team that meets for the 100 days to solve a challenge. 

With the launch of each new “workout,” team members are assigned roles to address the challenge and learn new skills and problem-solving techniques.

In the five years since the hospital started this work, 100-day workouts have led to efficiencies in operations, improved health outcomes, and significant financial savings — all from cross-departmental collaboration and a culture that encourages employees to try new things. 

Creating a culture of change

Today, thanks to the 100-day workout model, staff are getting creative in their problem solving, teaming up collaboratively and empowering non-traditional leaders, such as millennials, to brainstorm resourceful solutions. 

At leadership team meetings, Karen Harris, R.N., chief nursing and operations executive, and Tracy Kramer, director of strategic and business planning, listened for opportunities to improve efficiencies and gathered that small tweaks could go a long way. By focusing on implementing small changes in order to see big results, this took the pressure off staff and illustrated firsthand how taking chances could lead to smoother processes, and improved health outcomes. 

Recent 100-day workouts have tackled everything from streamlining the patient intake process to ensure patients are seen quicker, addressing clinician burnout and focusing on employee wellness. 

Kramer emphasized that in the 100-day workouts, employees are encouraged to try two new changes a month, “but they don’t need to be successful with two.” 

 “We really try to embrace the idea that change can be small, and that it’s OK to fail,” Kramer said. 

The project has led to many “deep conversations about failure,” underscoring the need in health care to discuss these failures, why they happened, and how to operate differently the next time. 

“If you don’t have the tough conversations about what is causing waste day to day and how to fix it, people just come up with their workarounds and deal with it,” Kramer said. “Once you look at it as an opportunity to eliminate it, things bubble up to the top that you can actually work to fix them instead of just talking about them.”

Engaging the millennial workforce 

As a hospital with a relatively “flat” organizational hierarchy, Henry Ford West Bloomfield is constantly searching for ways to give employees opportunities to grow. 

With the 100-day workout, employees of all ages and backgrounds are put on the same team to address challenges creatively, which can showcase their unique skills and inspired thinking. In addition, the workouts allow for employees to embrace leadership and “coaching” roles, facilitating discussions and reporting back to the hospital’s executive team. 

“Millennials in particular want growth and development in the workforce,” Harris said. “They have the social network already, so the collaboration is natural. They ask questions in a different way, and they want flexibility and agility in the workplace.” 

The 100-day workouts successfully met these needs and have left many of the hospital’s employees feeling empowered and invigorated, Kramer and Harris said. 

In addition to debriefing on lessons learned, the workouts culminate in “award ceremonies,” and staff recognition, contributing to an overall sense of pride, joy and appreciation for new opportunities and professional growth. 

The project’s most notable outcomes — in addition to increased employee engagement — include improved readmissions while reducing length of stay; improved Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores and other quality, financial, and operational enhancements. In the past five years, the work generated 3,978 changes trialed totaling over $21M of savings.

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