We have all heard the term, “Think outside the box,” which means to look for ideas from the outside of your healthcare organization to improve the performance and cost of the products, services, and technologies you are buying. The prominent technique for doing so is brainstorming. While this concept is still a good idea, “thinking inside the box,” or inside your hospital, system, or IDN with your value analysis process can reap even bigger, quicker, and more sustainable benefits.
Larry Miles, the father of value analysis, thought “thinking inside the box” was a good idea over 60 years ago when he talked about eliminating an element of a product, service, or technology to reduce its cost.
Subtraction in Hospital Value Analysis
This “subtraction” value analysis technique developed by Larry Miles has been further refined by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg, authors of “Inside the Box: A Proven System for Creativity for Breakthrough Results.”
The technique is very simple and easy to learn. It comes down to removing non-essential elements of the products, services, and technologies you are buying. When employing the value analysis methodology, we would first understand the functions (primary, secondary, and aesthetic) of the commodity under investigation, and then eliminate any function or feature that couldn’t be value justified by our customers.
For instance, we recommend to our clients that they don’t need an I.V. securement device for all their outpatients, since their patient stay is usually only a few hours. We also recommend reducing the quantity of exam gloves in a box (to eliminate staff dropping copious gloves on the floor), decreasing the number of ports on I.V. sets, and ordering patient bathing wipes with only 6 wipes versus 8 or 10 in a pack.
“Subtraction” is just one of five techniques (i.e., subtraction, unification, multiplication, division, and attribute dependency) that Boyd and Goldenberg recommend “to create new-to-the-world ideas that can then be put to valuable use” in value analysis. Try using these techniques in your hospital value analysis process, and let us know the results!
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