By Dean Bliss
In my role as a Lean healthcare worker, I do a lot of training and coaching throughout the state of Iowa. As I do, I collect and create training material from many sources. I had an experience the other day that gave me pause.
I was looking for a short video to use to illustrate the complexity of the healthcare system and how, when the system breaks down, tragedy can be the result. I was sifting through some video files, and as I came across ones that I had used in the past. I thought to myself, “people have seen this one and this one – I need something fresh”. And then I thought, wait. These are tragic stories of how the healthcare system failed and someone died as a result. And I’m looking for another one, and another one, and another one. And unfortunately, I found several more.
I wondered at this point if there was something wrong with me, if I was becoming desensitized to the problems we are addressing of harm coming to people within the healthcare system. Story after story, broken process after broken process. Death after death.
There is a huge push right now from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reduce harm in healthcare. Which, as those of us in healthcare know, is needed. Nothing less than zero harm is acceptable. And yet we still have story after story after story….
But it’s not the fault of the workers in healthcare – nobody goes to work in a hospital or clinic to do a bad job or to harm someone. It’s the processes in which they work that allow the harm to continue. That’s why we need improvement methods and philosophies like Lean, so we can identify and eliminate harm to people under our care. I want there to come a day when I can’t find new tragic stories in healthcare. Because there won’t be any.
Dean Bliss is a Lean Healthcare Coach for the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative (IHC). He assists healthcare organizations in learning and applying continuous improvement activities and philosophy. He is an original member of the IHC’s Lean workgroup, which has conducted statewide Lean healthcare conferences and Lean learning opportunities since 2005. Dean joined IHC in August 2011, after 6 years working in healthcare in various Lean consultant roles and 25 years at Rockwell Collins, an aerospace and communications electronics company. Dean has a BS degree in Business Administration from Iowa State University. He has spoken at numerous Lean conferences and seminars throughout the country.
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