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Wisconsin Hospitals Adopting Lean

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This story is from Wisconsin Public Radio talks about Lean at Aurora Health Care, based in the Milwaukee area. (“Hospitals Turn to Lean Management to Save Money“).

The story talks about how the health system improved the discharge process, leading to shorter patient stays. Shorter length of stay, given the current-state conditions with quality in healthcare, leads to better patient safety. Rather than being kept longer for more observation, your odds are better getting out of the hospital:

“Unfortunately, hospitals can be risky places for patients. The longer they stay, the greater the risk of things like infections and falls. So I think across the board, most people would agree that as soon as the patient is medically able, it's usually a good idea for them to leave the hospital,” Hallisy [the President of the Empowered Patient Coalition]  says.

There are already many good examples of Lean healthcare in Wisconsin, including two members of the Healthcare Value Leaders Network – ThedaCare and Gundersen Lutheran.

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My only wish was that the headline didn't focus so much on saving money, since that's not the only benefit from Lean! Quality, waiting time, and staff morale are also very important benefits and goals.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is an anthology titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

2 Comments
  1. Anonymous says

    My spouse works for Aurora. For years, the corporation has trained staff in “PlaneTree”, an expensive “respect-for-people” approach that honors the patients and employees. Unfortunately it is not practiced by the organization of Aurora. Supervisors are squeezed for results, leading to micro-management; departments are not staffed with planned or emergency time off taken into account; billing by hospitals and cliinics is separated and often slow; refunds (from double-paying of insurance AND advance deductible/co-pay) take 30 days; etc, etc.

    I question whether the company has an environment that will gain any significant benefit from Lean principles. All it would take are a CEO and unit Administrators who know and believe in Lean, but they are not easilly found.

    The Aurora practitioners’ professionalism (quality, patient manner) at the treatment level is as good as any I have ever seen. Their management system and administrative processes are as bad as any I have seen. (I am choosing to remain anonymous to protect my spouse’s job.)

  2. […] 2010: “Wisconsin Hospitals Adopting Lean“ […]

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