Segmentation

segmentation

A related process is segmentation. This is when tasks with similar flow rates or task times are grouped together.

Segmentation smoothes flow, but only if the capacity in the segmented slot is balanced with the demand.

Fast, medium and slow lanes at a swimming pool are an example of segmentation. If roughly equal numbers of all three speeds turn up then the segmented lane system will be efficient for all. However, if the capacity in the lanes is not balanced with the demand then queues will form if lots of slow swimmers and no fast ones turn up one day! The best way for the swimming pool staff to sort this out is to monitor usage regularly and ensure lanes are reallocated according to the actual demand.

In healthcare, segmented systems separate out a whole process of care for one group, without interfering with the care of another group.

Segmented systems can be useful for certain groups of patients such as ADHD assessments. These follow similar processes and timescales and you can match the capacity with the demand. However, ADHD follow-up clinics may not work well if medication monitoring is combined with parent training and CBT! These processes are too dissimilar and it is likely to lead to waits and bottlenecks. Much better to have a segmented ADHD medication review clinic with adequate capacity and a separate, segmented parent training clinic, which may take parents with a range of children.