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Just What The Doctor Ordered

After a detailed self examination, the in-plant for the American Academy of Family Physicians made some major improvements to its operational health. It’s now more productive, efficient and cost effective than ever.

July 2009 By Dawn Greenlaw-Scully
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THE AMERICAN Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has served as an advocate, educational resource and standards bearer for U.S. doctors for more than half a century. Currently, the AAFP boasts a membership of 94,600 family physicians.

Of course, the national association can't make house calls to each of its members. It has, however, made the right call by operating in-house Digital Printing and Mailing Services departments at its Leawood, Kan., head–quarters.

Five years ago, when the AAFP decided to restructure its digital print shop and merge it with Mailing Services, the Digital Printing team initially had reason to doubt the wisdom of the changes. As part of the restructuring, a part-time position was eliminated, leaving Digital Printing Supervisor Shawn Parkison and her remaining staff member, Amy Trock, overworked. At the same time, the department received additional responsibilities, taking on a plethora of print jobs that had been outsourced previously.

However, the staff decided to view the situation as an opportunity rather than a hardship. The department subjected itself to a complete physical, assessed its condition and embarked on a self-improvement quest (see sidebar for details). The result: increased productivity and efficiency, as well as reduced costs.

"The integration of the two departments led to the increased efficiency of the Digital Printing area," reflects Diane Chastain, manager of Digital Printing, Mailing Services and Postal Affairs.

Parkison lauds Chastain for supporting and facilitating the improvements.

"We became very outdated and struggled even to open documents sent to us," Parkison recalls. "[Diane Chastain] not only sees the value in updating software, but also listens and values the expertise of those working in the department." 

Presently, Parkison and Mailing Services Supervisor Bob Eaton each have one full-time staff member in their respective departments. Parkison and Eaton report to Chastain, who is accountable to Administration Division Director Joe Anthuis.

A Busy Print Shop

The Digital Printing department generated approximately 17.5 million pages last year, producing a range of jobs that includes course manuals, agendas and other materials related to events and education. Runs typically exceed 500, and the in-plant's biggest single job to date was a little more than one million impressions. Overall page output translated into nearly two million pieces of mail produced by Mailing Services.

The print shop cohabitates with Mailing Services in a 3,050-square-foot area. Printing and mailing also share 500 square feet of additional storage space with the shipping and receiving department.



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