In 2006, the WHO World Alliance for Patient Safety initiated an international project called “High 5s Action on Patient Safety”. This project is a collaboration of the Member States of WHO, namely the World Health Organization Patient Safety Programme and the WHO Patient Safety Collaborating Centre, and brings together the 7 following countries: Canada, France, Germany, Singapore, Netherlands, Australia, and the United States.
The Objective of 5s
The project is focused on improving Patient Safety through the implementation of standardised operation protocols which would measurably and sustainably reduce the challenges that patient safety is exposed to.
While the 5s method has its roots in the manufacturing industry, its adoption in healthcare has played a crucial role in structuring and organising patient areas in the hospital. The process inherently improves efficiency and reduces wastages, in that manner contributing towards improved Patient Safety.
What are the 5s?
The 5s principles are:
These make way for an improved workplace by enabling the elimination of clutter, reorganisation of the functional space and enhanced discipline, in its course aiding better patient safety.
Benefits of 5s
The implementation of the 5s process in healthcare provides a chance for constant improvement. Items that are unnecessary are removed which allows for maximisation of efficiency at the workplace. This, in turn, increases productivity and limits the amount of time that would be wasted.
The 5s process achieves worker commitment through its implementation. It encourages participation in the workplace design and maintenance. This involvement helps workers engage and be more responsible for their actions, thereby committing to and taking pride in their work.
A report by Quality Management states that the 5s process implementation yields a reduction in lost and damaged items. This is of course, due to clear organisation protocols and accurate labelling in the workplace which allows the workers to stick to designated standard procedures and diminish any odds of damaging a product and identification of equipment that are not in optimal working condition. It also focuses on keeping a track of the inventory when it comes to consumables and medications.
While the 5s process has led to improvements in other industries, it has been slow to gain traction in the industry of healthcare. That being said, the project distinguishably explores feasibility and standardisation, and their impacts on addressing common safety problems for enhanced patient safety.