Lean Healthcare: Thedacare
According to this article (link has been misplaced), ThedaCare has been modeling the Toyota Production System to implement lean for the last 2 years. There is some explanation of what ThedaCare terms ‘Rapid Improvement Events' where a cross functional team of people collaborate on finding ways to cut out waste (reducing wasted movement was the example given). The same team develops a process, puts it into action and monitors results.
What is most striking to me about this article however, is the extent to which ThedaCare seems to have embraced the higher level elements of a lean mind set. Granted this is only one article, but a couple of important points stand out that indicate they are doing much more than implementing a few basic lean tools:
The customer is clearly the focus – Dr. John Toussaint, ThedaCare's CEO is quoted, “helped us save $12 million, but more importantly it has allowed us the ability to improve what we offer our customers.” There are further comments in the article that refer to helping employees provide higher quality care.
ThedaCare is a learning organization – the whole point of the article was that ThedaCare invited a group of visitors to see how they have made lean work for them. (The US Army was listed as one of the organizations who sent representatives). They also have a Chief Learning Officer who is quoted in the article.
They have a greater sense of purpose (greater than making money) and a long-term philosophy. The last quote from Toussaint in the article clearly supports this. “We have a huge problem with health costs in this country. We need to do something.”
It's encouraging to see an example that is so much more than a couple key process improvements mixed in with some ‘buzz words' and statements of short term cost savings.