QUERI – Quality Enhancement Research Initiative

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Quality Improvement Methods

54. Visual Controls

c. Definition: Often communications can be more simply and clearly communicated with a visual message, like a traffic light, than with words or numbers. Toyota found visual controls or messages to be a very effective and efficient way to communicate operational messages and they visual controls are applicable in healthcare as well. Visual displays are a way to keep both staff and patients informed and to provide direction for necessary actions. The recommendations resulting from QI research may require a change to current practices and visual controls can alert staff to the changes as well as reinforcing the recommended practice.

d. Literature: Most books on the Lean Method also describe visual control ideas.

  • Galsworth, Gwendolyn. "Visual Workplace -Visual Thinking." Visual-Lean Enterprise Press, Portland (2005).

e. Example: Wall flags outside a clinic exam room to give clues regarding the status of the patient within.

Wall flags outside a clinic exam room to give clues regarding the status of the patient within

Exam room doorway in a clinic with colored flags to indicate status of patient inside.