Posted by: knightbird | February 14, 2011

Spaghetti Diagrams and Modern Tools

A medical campus can be a complex place to conduct a spaghetti diagram of. In 2007 I had asked our medical facility to map a typical patient journey, and thought that the best way would be to give the patient a campus map and a log to enter information in as they went from place to place. It never happened, but we persisted and submitted a request to the board of directors, which was accepted. Of course, management had different ideas and has attempted to convince us that they already knew the answers to our concerns without needing the data. I am attempting to resurrect the request. We need data to improve the patient journey.

About 2 months ago, I was inspired to think differently about mapping patient journeys from, of all places, an Alaska outdoor sporting goods store. As I wandered through the hunting dog section, I saw a collar with a GPS on it. I remembered seeing a watch for runners that actually recorded your running path and time, which could then be downloaded to a computer. Could a patient be given such a device, and have their journey through the medical campus tracked? Would it record the time they spent at a particular clinic or lab? Would it be accurate enough to record the factual data we need in order to help make improvements to that patient journey. And, as I thought, is it cost effective enough to escape the Eagle Nay Saying Eye of the finance people?

It’s an idea worth looking at. I am curious. Has anyone attempted this type of project using GPS before?




  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Graban, Ryan Blundell. Ryan Blundell said: RT @LeanBlog: Patrick Anderson: Spaghetti Diagrams and Modern Tools #lean #CEO […]

  2. I have heard of hospitals using RFID chips in badges given to patients or worn by employees, to gather this type of data. I haven’t seen it used with my own eyes.

    I’d be skeptical of that route… having people observe and draw spaghetti charts using their own eyes does more than collect data. It helps surface countless examples of waste and opportunities for improvement. I think this needs to be an active activity, not a passive data collection exercise. This observation, better yet, should be done in a peer-to-peer way – such as nurses observing nurses, not an outside expert doing it. This helps teach people to see waste in their own work in a way that I think automatically collected RFID/GPS data couldn’t do…

  3. Excellent observations and comments, Mark. I initially advocated for more hands on patient journeys, and have met with incredible resistance for going on 4 years. I am attempting to find something palatable that will gather data that can be acted on.

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