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Rapid Improvement Event – solving patient flow issues together

Rapid Improvement Event Waikato DHB

Over three days last week, a team of 12 Waikato DHB staff including nurses, ward receptionists, bed managers and doctors worked together to solve a hospital patient flow problem using a facilitated Rapid Improvement Event approach.

The goal of the team was to shorten the time taken from ‘decision to admit’ when a patient is in emergency department or the acute medical unit, through to when they are admitted to a hospital ward.

Staff with different roles in the process brought different perspectives, sharing the issues and challenges they face daily. Together the group mapped the decision-making process and the patient’s journey, which helped to highlight the congestion points.

Once issues in the current process were identified and prioritised, the group came up with solutions, tested a few changes during the workshop, and developed a plan for other changes to be implemented over the next few weeks.

Waikato DHB’s executive director of Operations and Performance Marc ter Beek says

”It was fantastic to see the participants come together as a problem-solving team over the three days, getting to understand each other’s world and coming up with practical solutions to improve the process for our patients.  We could not have asked for a better group of staff to work through this problem.”

The workshop is just one of the projects at Waikato DHB to improve the way patients move through the hospital, making it a better experience for patients and more efficient for staff in the hospital.

Recently a new standard discharge process (known as SAFER) has been adopted by hospital wards to ensure discharges are well planned, safe and timely for patients and their families as well as hospital staff. This allows for more effective management of hospital beds and new patient admissions.


A Rapid Improvement Event is also known as a Kaizen Event. In practice a Rapid Improvement Event generally spans from 1 to 5 days and involves key process participants focusing on solving a narrowly scoped process improvement opportunity.



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