ThedaCare Continues the Lean Journey


    ThedaCare program gets boost

    ThedaCare has already been seen as a leader in applying lean to hospitals, but its good to see they are continuing their efforts after three years. It's also nice to see a manufacturer (Miller Electric) partnering with a health system to improve (via lean coaching and financial support).

    “It's really about improving reliability and reducing errors but also improving care our patients receive,” said Kathryn Correia, senior vice president of ThedaCare, Appleton Medical Center and Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah.

    “We've all experienced or heard stories about hospital stays fraught with unnecessary delays in treatment or discharge, or a myriad of other issues that relate directly to a lack of collaboration and coordination among caregivers,” Correia said. “Waiting for hours for a needed procedure — or even something as simple as being discharged — because no one anticipated or planned for your needs, is needlessly expensive, and leads to inefficient care and poor outcomes.”

    Beyond using lean “tools,” the ThedaCare effort is looking at changing the teamwork dynamics of hospital care:

    The future care model is based on every patient receiving care from a core team made up of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists and other clinicians. The core team will work side-by-side during a patient's entire hospitalization. Each patient's care will be tracked to instantly provide information about the quality and efficiency of the care being delivered.

    It will be interesting to see what “side by side” means. I heard a comment at a hospital recently, “Doctors used to talk with each other.” Health providers often communicate only through written notes, which are full of opportunities for errors and miscommunications. Steven Spear has written a lot about the idea of improving handoffs and reducing communication errors in healthcare.

    Lean is about more than implementing kanban systems and visual controls. It's about rethinking the value added care that is delivered and it sounds like ThedaCare might be doing that.

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.



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