TMC wraps up summer challenge asking employees for their best ideas

Tucson Medical Center five years ago embraced the Lean management process, which works to eliminate waste and tap the knowledge of employees to make steady improvement every day.

The Summer of Ideas challenged employees to channel their creativity and share their suggestions across the hospital.

More than 250 ideas were submitted since the July kickoff. Awards were given for the team and the individual with the most ideas, as well as the best “out of the park” idea.

Some of the ideas included a TMC-specific rideshare program, new software for clinicians and an app to help patients and visitors navigate the campus.

LeanAmyThree of the four finalists – and the winner of the category – for the most ambitious idea generators work in Unit 750, an adult medical unit. Unit clerk Amy Hill, who came to TMC six years ago, won a reserved parking space for a month.

“What I really appreciate about TMC is that there is an acknowledgment that those who are closest to the work often have the best solutions to improve a process,” Hill said. “I appreciate that whether it’s finding root causes of a problem or finding the where efficiencies are, we can all have some ownership of making things better.”

Janet Heckman, the manager of Unit 750, applauded the efforts of her staff. “Taking ideas from the front line staff who actually do the work is very important as I may not realize there is an issue,” Heckman said. “I also believe being heard is a huge employee satisfaction point as they feel empowered and heard.”

Ideas were logged on a Lean tool known as an “idea board.” There are 120 idea boards throughout TMC as well as at TMCOne locations and TMC Hospice.

It’s different from a suggestion box in that ideas – as well as any outcomes or solutions – are visible to the entire team, who can contribute to the idea as it matures, said Pat Ledin, the manager of Lean and quality efforts at TMC. “We hoped the Summer of Ideas would serve as a fun catalyst to continue driving engagement and we were really pleased with the participation across so many of our departments, from environmental services to information technology to clinical staff.”

lean ideas

Medical librarian Marni Dittmar, who picked up an extra day off as an award for her most “out of the park” idea, is an example of how the process worked. She not only came up with her idea for new clinical software, but then researched it to determine the benefits and feasibility.

Click here to see a short video about how idea boards are igniting creativity and empowering staff at TMC.

Tucson Medical Center certified as a great workplace

Tucson Medical Center was certified as a great workplace in early September by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work®.

Tucson Medical Center earned this credential based on extensive ratings provided by its employees in anonymous surveys. A summary of these ratings can be found at http://reviews.greatplacetowork.com/tucson-medical-center.

Overall, 80 percent of surveyed employees characterized their workplace as “great,” with 92 percent saying they feel good about the ways they contribute to the economy and 91 percent crediting TMC with a great atmosphere.

“We work hard every day to build a culture in which our employees are valued and supported in doing the best work they can every day for our patients,” said Alex Horvath, vice president and chief human resources officer. “We like to say we’re a family here. And to get to that place, you have to build relationships with each other and with the community you serve.”

Nearly 90 percent of employees said they were proud to work at TMC, which has 600 beds and has been providing quality health care to the community for more than 70 years. In addition to strong connections to the community, TMC is an award-winning hospital with an advanced information technology footprint, innovative programs to support new nurses, and a management philosophy that taps the expertise of all employees to drive improvements.

“We applaud Tucson Medical Center for seeking certification and releasing its employees’ feedback,” said Kim Peters, Executive Vice President of Great Place to Work’s Certification Program. “These ratings measure its capacity to earn its own employees’ trust and create a great workplace – critical metrics that anyone considering working for or doing business with Tucson Medical Center should take into account as an indicator of high performance.”

Tucson Medical Center employees completed 701 surveys, resulting in a 90 percent confidence level and a margin of error of ± 2.77.

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and certification programs, including Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. In the United States, Great Place to Work® produces the annual Fortune “100 Best Companies to Work For®” list.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461