LeanBlog Podcast #53 – Patrick Anderson, Lean Healthcare in Alaska


LeanBlog Podcast Episode #53 is a conversation with Patrick M. Anderson, the Executive Director of Chugachmiut, the Tribal consortium created to promote self-determination to the seven Native communities of the Chugach Region. I met Patrick at a Lean conference where he shared their experiences with applying Lean principles to healthcare delivery in Alaska. I am happy to bring their story to you, here in the first part of a two-part Podcast discussion.

You can also read more about Lean concepts at Chugachmiut on their website. In this episode, we talk about the origins of Lean at Chugachmiut, how they used Kaizen Events in their healthcare clinics, and their abolition of annual performance reviews. This was recorded in October, so some of the weather and daylight references aren't that recent for here in mid-November.

MP3 File

For earlier episodes, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS or via Apple Podcasts.

Episode 53 Key Points and Links:
If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at leanpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave a voicemail by calling the “Lean Line” at (817) 993-0630 or contact me via Skype id “mgraban”. Please give your location and your first name. Any comments (email or voicemail) might be used in follow ups to the podcast.

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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. Im not so sure i agree with the previous post re: GM. Mark mentions that lean principles at Chugichmiut have been underway in primary care for a “number of years” serving 7 villages, and 5 clinics in 10 million acres with a budget of 14 million dollars.

    Mr. Anderson mentions starting the lean methodology in 2004. Yet i did not find any solid data indicating improvement with the fiduciary aspects of his company.

    Additionally, I would be interested to hear what sort of measures are being used to gauge success in this lean environment for healthcare. Are patient outcomes any better since executing lean strategy in 2004?

    I hope the future podcast will site specific examples at how healthcare was impacted and improved in this lean leadership and through Demmings philosophy, in addition to fiduciary improvements.

  2. The second post makes some very valuable comments, ones that we have been wrestling with for quite some time. Measurement is very difficult in non-profits. Other than body count, non-profits don’t seem to measure very much. We have been fixing our administrative structure, which was in considerable distress, and did not have measures to start with or to benchmark against. For our purposes then, we just needed to get better, and lean did that for us.

    We have been discussing how we measure patient outcomes. Our Electronic Health Record is one key to our ability to track over time. We are also able to develop education programs now, where before we were focused on acute care almost exclusively.

    Still, the biggest obstacle I faced in our lean journey was the cultural transformation. Our employees now get it. My board just completed my evaluation for my fifth year as ED here, and it is clear that they also get it. The services are increasing and improving.

    I certainly appreciate any comments on measurement, and thanks for the constructive comments.


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