Podcast #124 – Paul O’Neill on Workplace Safety and Patient Safety

For quotes and transcript, click here.

I have a very special guest for Podcast #124 –  he is Paul O'Neill, the U.S. Treasury Secretary from 2001 to 2002 and former CEO of Alcoa.

Mr. O'Neill is sharing his thoughts on patient safety and healthcare, including his time spent as the Chair of the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative and his work with Dr. Richard Shannon in dramatically reducing hospital acquired infections to near their “theoretical limit” of zero. Dr. Shannon will be a podcast guest next month. Mr. O'Neill talks about the leadership required to have such an impact on safety and quality, drawing on lessons from his years as Alcoa's CEO.

This podcast was produced in conjunction with the Healthcare Value Network as a continuation of their previous podcast series.

For a link to this episode, refer people to  www.leanblog.org/124. You can also read quotes from the podcast in this blog post.

Podcast Summary

You can also read and download this 4-page PDF summary of the podcast:

About Paul O'Neill:

Paul O'Neill is a founder of Value Capture, LLC, where he provides counsel and support to health care executives and policymakers who share his conviction that the value of health care operations can be increased by 50% or more through the pursuit of perfect safety and clinical outcomes. He was the 72nd Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, serving from 2001 to 2002. During his 21 month tenure, the lost workday rate among Treasury employees fell by more than 50%.

He was the chairman and CEO of Alcoa from 1987 to 1999 and retired as chairman at the end of 2000. Mr. O'Neill led Alcoa to become the safest workplace in the world while increasing its market capitalization by more than 800%. Today, Alcoa operates across more than 40 countries at a lost workday rate that is 20 times lower than the average rate for American hospitals.

Prior to joining Alcoa, Mr. O'Neill was president of International Paper Company from 1987 to 1985 and was vice president from 1977 to 1985. He served as the deputy director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget from 1974 to 1977, where he served on staff beginning in 1967. He worked as a computer systems analyst with the U.S. Veterans Administration from 1961 to 1966. During his government service, Mr. O'Neill helped to shape many of the policies which define the American health care system today. He serves as a board member at the National Quality Forum, RAND, and more than a dozen other major corporations and non-profit organizations.

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

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  1. Mark Graban says

    If you have comments on the podcast, please add them here with the other comments:


  2. […] by Mark Graban on October 12, 2011 · 0 comments Hat tip to Dan Markovitz for pointing out this excellent post on John Toussaint’s blog: “The Key Leadership Behaviors in a Lean Organization?” The post is a letter written by Paul O’Neill answering a question from a hospital leader. Paul O’Neill is a great leader in the patient safety movement and you can listen to my podcast with him here. […]

  3. […] mentioned in the blog, Paul O’Neill (my podcast with him is here) was also a big supporter of Dr. Berwick. In an age of hyper-partisianship, there’s a […]

  4. […] O’Neill (check out my podcast with […]

  5. […] methods and mindsets that help improve quality and safety… but it requires leadership. As Paul O’Neill told me a few years ago, the bottleneck is leadership, or the lack […]

  6. […] destroy trust that people have in our healthcare providers and facilities. Lean is often a “safety first” philosophy in manufacturing companies and we need more of that thinking in healthcare, instead of focusing just on cost and […]

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