Continuous improvement is hard but worth it. Just ask the Office of The Medical Examiner (OME). For years, like most agencies of the City & County of Denver, the OME felt their case file process could improve and deliver more value to its customers more efficiently.

For example, customer wait times for case files could take approximately 3.5 days. 25 percent of case files requested by customers were not found the first time, and 5,000 3×5 index cards were used per year to archive case files through a dewy decimal like system.

Moreover, while the investigator was approving the release of a body, there was a notable amount of motion, overproduction and waiting. The Certificate of Death (COD) was manually filled out and transfers of jurisdiction were signed with wet signatures even though the ability to sign with e-signatures was available.

However, with the spirit and tools of continuous improvement, the OME identified over eleven ways to improve this cumbersome process. For example, get rid of the 3×5 cards to reduce defects, rework and overproduction, save hard dollars ($450) on printing costs, and streamline the process of locating archived case files. Repurpose computer equipment from around the office and city, in order to create a station/secure computer system (Kiosk) at the front window and deliver more value to customers that need to fill out case file requests. Start signing transfers of jurisdiction with e-signatures, instead of the traditional wet signature, in order to save clerical time and resources (e.g. paper).

These innovations and seven others are scheduled to be fully implemented around the third quarter of 2016. Furthermore, these innovations are expected to save the OME roughly $2,313.43 per year in hard savings, $311,314 per year in soft savings and millions in customer wait time.

Improvements worth implementing are identified and built as a team. While they seldom happen overnight, they have a great and lasting impact on the customers and enterprises alike. These are the improvements with the greatest chance of fixing what bugs us and when we fix what bugs us, we have less bugs.

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