Virginia Mason Medical Center and their use of Lean and TPS was featured on the CBS Evening News on Saturday. This is huge, I think, for the lean healthcare movement to have positive mention in a major news venue, video below:
The piece seemed to paint Lean in a very positive light, exploring some of the mindset and solutions after succinctly summing up the problem:
“This is one of the reasons health care has become unaffordable in the United States is that we are wasting time and we're wasting valuable medical assets,” said Dr. Robert Mecklenburg.
The debate about fixing healthcare can't only be about who pays for what and how to pay people less. We need to reduce the true waste and cost in providing care, not just play financial games or get to the point where people are denied care that's truly needed (but part of the problem is deciding who decides what's “needed” or not).
The CEO, Gary Kaplan, summed it up:
“Kaplan takes staff to Toyota's factories in Japan every year and practices what the car maker preaches. Just as the automaker's executives spend part of each day on the factory floor, Kaplan tours the hospital daily looking for problems and solutions. Everyone is encouraged to look for changes to make work more efficient. Nurses developed ways to spend most of their time with patients instead of at the nursing station. “
It's an interesting point for debate: do people really need to be dragged to Japan, at this point, to really see and understand lean? That's a big expense.
But look at how Kaplan visits “the gemba” (as we say in the Lean world) to see problems first hand and to get EVERYONE engaged in finding solutions. Freeing up more time for patient care is good for everyone, as well. The video, if you watched, points out that VMMC has saved $11 Million, a point not in the web text, for some reason. Keep in mind, this isn't just cost savings… quality and care has improved, as well, here and at so many other “lean hospitals.”
I'll probably review more of the reader comments on the CBS site, I encourage you to check them out. It's interesting to see the range of reactions ranging from “way to go!” to a somewhat misguided “why would you listen to a company (Toyota) that lost $8 Billion last year?”
Update: Those reader comments are no longer seen on the new CBS News page for this story.
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