Another Reason for Lean Healthcare


Businesses may move health care overseas – Yahoo! News

I'm by no means a protectionist, nor do I automatically think any doctors or hospitals outside the U.S. would automatically be inferior…

But, that said, I'm VERY uncomfortable with the idea that companies are going to “incentivize” (i.e., force) employees to travel to India or other “low cost” countries for medical care. When an employee “makes money” in the deal, “voluntarily” allowing their procedure to be done in Asia, you can hardly say it's a far deal. The alternative might be crippling debt due to high U.S. healthcare costs. What “choice” do some of these employees have if they don't have a lot of money?

When I left manufacturing for the healthcare world last year, ironically enough, part of the appeal was the notion that “we can't outsource healthcare.” Oops. There's no bounds to what a low-cost-chasing perspective in the business world will bring. I mean, I figured outsourcing would be limited to radiology or things involving digital information — but not patient care.

Healthcare needs to figure this out faster than the manufacturing world has — you have an obligation to your patients/customers to CUT COSTS and get more efficient using Lean methods — improving quality and patient safety, improving processes, etc. We can't sustain the increased spending in healthcare and the right answer can't be “just spend more money.” I saw a presentation last week about fixing the nation's emergency rooms — six of the seven ideas involved spending more money, the seventh recommendation was lean, basically.

The answer can't be to offshore things, to cut costs that way. That's taking the worst kind of thinking from manufacturing world. Lets, instead, take the best thinking from the manufacturing world — Lean Thinking.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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