Here is a video from the St. Louis Beacon (actually, an NPR-style audio story with pictures) about Lean healthcare at Virginia Mason Medical Center, in Seattle, and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, in St. Louis.
A few comments on what’s generally an excellent story:
The story says that value stream mapping is about the improvement of the indvidual steps. What’s actually more important about value stream mapping is that people see the big picture – the end-to-end patient flow, for example. Much of the waste in a value stream comes at the handoffs between steps or between departments. Improving individual steps is important, but it’s more important to improve the entire system. Value stream mapping creates this visibility and the process of creating the value stream maps brings together cross-functional and cross-departmental teams who learn to appreciate the bigger picture.
The piece points out that Virginia Mason has been in the top 1% of safety performance for 2 years running, so congratulations to them (this is part of their being named “Hospital of the Decade.”)
The story also rightfully points out that Lean is not for everyone, that it requires time and leadership. This is consistent with my position that people shouldn’t view Lean as some sort of silver bullet superhero who is here to magically save the day.
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