Nice ThedaCare Article


JS Online: Tending to improvements in health care

Here's a nice overview article about the Lean efforts of the ThedaCare health system in Wisconsin.

Some highlights:

ThedaCare estimates that its work to improve efficiency in 2005 and 2006 cut costs by $22 million a year, without layoffs, while reducing medical errors.

That's a nice example of how cost and quality can be improved together, with Lean.

The health care system also has shown that lower costs don't mean lower quality. Last year, only one of 193 bypass patients who required only one graft died at a ThedaCare hospital, a mortality rate of 0.5%, compared with The Society of Thoracic Surgeons benchmark of 1.7%. ThedaCare's mortality rate for other bypass surgeries also beats national benchmarks.

Lean's not a “silver bullet” but it's an important method for hospitals:

Most health care economists agree there is no single solution to controlling the rise in health care costs. But eliminating the waste in the health care system is considered one of the best hopes.

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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.


  1. Good stuff, Mark. ThedaCare is rapidly becoming the Toyota of healthcare, and this article points out many of the reasons.

  2. I got to see John Toussaint, President and CEO of Thedacare, present at Lean 2008 in Melbourne earlier in the year. I don’t work in healthcare but I was massively impressed with what he had to say. I think since then he’s been promoted to an even broader role.

    My review of Lean 2008 including Dr Toussaints presentation is here…

    I think that ThedaCare are becoming a pin-up for Lean full stop. I’m finding myself talking about them in my presentation to IT groups!


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