Catchball commenced in Saskatoon Health Region this week as a way for staff to have input into the strategy for the upcoming 90 Day hoshin on patient flow.

Catchball involves a back and forth process with ideas. This week, the plan developed by senior leadership for the upcoming 90 day cycle of breakthrough activity is being shared with employees, physicians, patients, partner organizations and members of the public; everyone is asked to toss feedback and ideas on the plan with each other, online, and with managers, directors, and  senior leaders.

Need some ideas on how to implement the catchball process in our Region?

Registration Services for Saskatoon Health Region has some excellent ideas on how to communicate with staff and gather feedback.

Areas like this allow Registration staff to easily submit improvement ideas to management.

Areas like this allow Registration staff to easily submit improvement ideas to management.

As part of their daily communication strategies with employees, Registration Services at each of the hospitals in Saskatoon has an improvement idea board which asks staff to write down ideas on Post-It notes.

Department managers try to have daily huddles with staff, but it’s often challenging, as registration can’t shut down, explained Joe Bichel, Regional Manager of Registration Services.

“Staff have to huddle when they can, or only a few at a time,” Bichel noted. This makes boards and other visual communication tools highly necessary as a way to communicate with staff and gather input and suggestions.

April Brown is the manager of Royal University Hospital (RUH) Registration, and she uses daily huddles, visual communication boards, and a weekly huddle email for her staff of 40 to ensure everyone is kept up-to-date and involved.

She’s used trial and error to develop a system of communicating with staff that now works well.  She has a conference call with night staff in both the emergency department and maternal services every morning on her way to work, discussing any issues from the previous night.  When she gets to work, the face-to-face talks begin.

“I’ve had to find times in the day that are appropriate to meet with the staff in each area,” she noted.

First thing in the morning is a good time for both emergency departments and maternal services, so that’s when she usually speaks with them, and updates communication boards in those areas. She doesn’t get up to maternal services every day, she said, as she can sometimes catch day staff on their conference call. But she likes to be there at least a few times a week.

“It’s key to get to each area, to see what’s going on, and to talk with all staff,” Brown said.

Morning is the busiest time for the main registration area at RUH. Due to the constant volume in that area, huddles at any time of day are difficult, so instead of organizing a huddle, Brown talks to people in that department individually, at least one person per day.  If there’s an important message everyone needs to know, she has a special board she places in the area, with that message on it.

Visibility wall at RUH

The visibility wall at the RUH Main Registration area.

Visual communication tools like boards are vital in the main registration area in particular.  Three boards just outside of Brown’s office contain areas for morale or audits, another tracks employee training, and a large board is for staff suggestions. Staff can view the boards at any time, get updates on what’s going on, or if they have a suggestion, put it in the suggestion box. Brown checks the contents of the box regularly and makes note of the suggestions made.

Suggestion box

The suggestion box in the Royal University Hospital Main Registration area.

“One thing that has helped the most is the weekly huddle email,” she said, which she has been sending for just over a year.

Brown tracks everything she speaks with staff about during daily conversations, all the questions asked and the answers she provided, and puts everything into an email that she shares with all staff members once a week.

“It just makes sure we’re all on the same page,” she said.

Brown plans on using all of these tools to participate in catchball with her team, and other managers are already picking up on her methods for use in their facilities and departments.

How are you involved in catchball? Let us know! Email

Whiteboard with information

This special white board is used to communicate important messages to RUH Registration staff

Suggestion and improvements board

Staff suggestion and improvement ideas are encouraged using this board in the main registration area at RUH.