A Bigger Job for ThedaCare’s Toussaint

Appleton Post-Crescent: Your Fox Cities News Source – ThedaCare CEO takes new job

ThedaCare is one of the recognized leaders in the use of Lean and the Toyota Production System in hospitals. He has resigned as CEO of the health system to take on a new job focused on improving healthcare throughout the country.

ThedaCare announced Thursday that Toussaint, who has served as president and CEO since April 2000, resigned that post and will lead the new ThedaCare Center for Creating Value in Healthcare, an organization dedicated to finding ways to reduce health care costs for providers, businesses and individuals. The program will be based in the Fox Cities.

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“We need leadership to focus on this issue,” Toussaint said in an interview with The Post-Crescent. “I’ve done what I can in statewide and national activities, but really it’s hard to do both jobs effectively.”

Dr. Toussaint is one of our best advocates for driving Lean improvements in quality and cost throughout healthcare. Let’s all wish him the best in his new mission and organization.

Some highlights of their improvements:

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ThedaCare has drawn medical professionals from around the world in recent years, mostly to observe how the system has been able to cut costs and improve care delivery without reducing staffing levels. Cutting $23 million from its operating costs was a five-year process, Toussaint said.

Toussaint said ThedaCare has come a long way since its lean efforts began nearly five years ago.

“Our quality of care is what I’m most proud of,” he said.

“We’ve taken waste out, so patients are not waiting for things,” he said. “One of the real benefits we’ve seen is that we’ve had zero medication errors because of the collaborative care model. It just goes to show when you reduce waste, quality improves and costs go down.”


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

3 Comments

  1. Dean Bliss says

    Wow. This has the potential to advance Lean in healthcare to a whole new level. I wish Dr. Toussaint good luck with this venture.

  2. Anonymous says

    Actually. It’s a shame that noone took the time to look at all the numbers. Collaborative doesn’t save money. It costs more.

    The entire study is based on an 11 bed unit. At this moment those involved in trying to advance collaborative care are realizing that it is non-sustainable.

    While one doc rounds on the Collaborative care unit, another twiddles his thumbs waiting for his turn to be allowed in. There simply isn’t enough pharmacy staff and nursing staff to handle more than one doc at a time. The result. ineffeciency. That number however isn’t being included in this study.. it’s being included in another LEAN event that’s trying to figure out how docs can see more patients in shorter time!? HA! (pure Thedablunder)

    What’s more, the powers that be have finally realized (1 year after they were warned by dozens of docs) that the system can’t work on a scale larger than 10 beds. The money it would take to hire enough pharmacy/nursing/support would cost more than iit would save. This reality finally sunk in last month when a top level manager said, “Gee, we are going to have to totally rethink the entire collaborative care process!”

    Ya think?!

    The model was doomed to begin with. Instead of relying on thoughts from docs, they took 1-2 docs, made them “champions” and gave them a list or unrealistic goals. Couple that with bowing down to the desires of nursing, pharmacy and everyone else who wanted to do more than the original job description and the result is a culture where everyone thinks they know best and morale is abysmal. 99% of docs in “Collaborative Care” hate it. What do you expect when you take docs and force them to change to a practice style they realize from the start is less effecient (and yes.. more expensive.. (see above)

    The result. Failure.

    Next time, listen to the ones who see 20 patients a day.

    In a fantasy land it would be great if every class has 2 kids and every patient had a trio. The reality? It wont work system wide.

    -Whistleblower.

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