Establishing Effective Continuous Improvement Projects with Ryan Roberts, VP of Continuous Improvement at Air Methods

Establishing Effective Continuous Improvement Projects with Ryan Roberts, VP of Continuous Improvement at Air Methods

Bots & Thoughts: The Hyperautomation Podcast, Hosted by Jimmy Hewitt (Sr. Automation Advisor) - Episode 15 - Cover Art
Published By : Cydney McCollum October 25, 2022

Establishing Effective Continuous Improvement Projects with Ryan Roberts, VP of Continuous Improvement at Air Methods


We are excited to release the first of many In-person interview episodes filmed at OPEX, the 6th World Annual Operational Excellence & Business Transformation Summit in Orlando, Florida, last week!

During Opex, Host Jimmy A. Hewitt had the amazing opportunity to sit down with Ryan Roberts, VP of Continuous Improvement at Air Methods, to discuss establishing effective Continuous Improvement projects within organizations. Tune in to hear Ryan’s story on how he got into the continuous improvement space, how process improvement fits in the world of health care, and more!

Watch Episode 15 interview now!

Follow along with the episode now!

Guest Background: Ryan Roberts, Vice President of Continuous Improvement at Air Methods


Air Methods: Air Medical transport

Medical helicopters

A lot of deep, clinical trauma expertise

Roberts Mindset: ask “How do we do this better?” every morning

You are either born with the mindset or can learn (through teaching, coaching, and development) the mindset

Education: Industrial engineering

Black Belt Six Sigma Certification



Prior Career:

  • Began in manufacturing
  • Moved into healthcare
  • Been in healthcare for 15 years
  • Roles:
    • Billing Center
    • Certified change manager
    • Certified Train the Trainer
    • Been at Air Methods for 5 years

Current: Vice President of Continuous Improvement at Air Methods


Attained the role because Roberts knew how to communicate with people, collaborate, be flexible, adapt

Understood both Lean Six Sigma AND change management

Assisting operations with the Billing Center continuous improvements currently Process mapping

Holding workshops to dig into front-end processes and understand where Air Methods can automate to make processes better

Wanting to use the people they have. Not more people, not less people. It is not black and white

People can agilely move to positions that are better suited for themselves and the processes

Continuous improvement:

Mindset: Operational Excellence, Continuous Improvement, Lean Six Sigma, etc. is a mindset, not just list of tools, methodologies, or processes. It is how you go about your everyday life

“How do I make this process better?”

End result: improves your life and job



Need a willing subject, executive support, leadership alignment

A “First Who, then What” space:

  • Who: need a mix of different people to make your team successful and make effective improvements
    • Cannot have all the same people
    • Need diversity in thought processes and collaboration
Roberts’ Previous employer: University Medical Center

Assignment: Ambulatory, outpatient clinics (Oncology, Orthopedics, Allergy, Primary Care, etc.)


Task: improve patient experience. Meet KPIs

Satisfaction score

Wait time

Clinical outcomes


  • Have to involve the people
  • Have every person and employee in each clinic carve out a day to workshop the process, get ideas, look at current processes, highlight challenges, and more to understand everything involved
  • Created an action plan to execute


  • Received pushback: money, time, effort, closing clinics, etc.


  • Started with one guinea pig who said yes. Went through every clinic and executed the plan

Key Themes:

  • Simple communication
  • Visual metrics
  • Innovation team: Think tank tasked to create anything
    • Created a digital real-time map of the clinic that showed wait times (flashed red if a patient was in room too long) in every clinician’s room and nursing station


  • Visual management: Lean Six Sigma
  • Workflow management
  • Digital


  • Pilot can be helpful to feel benefit before implementing widespread
  • Operational excellence: you do not have to have one large transformational effort
Overview: view from Roberts
  • Future expectations:

    • Manual data entry is eliminated for billing processes
    • Repurpose human capital to higher value, more strategic collaboration, partnering tasks
    • Employees enjoy their jobs more
    • More Six Sigma Black Belts
    • More Continuous Improvement projects
      • Employees look at data, analytics, and reports and take on continuous improvement tasks themselves
    • Remember: Continuous improvement is a mindset

Watch Episode 15 Interview with ryan roberts Now

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