10 Years of Lean at Virginia Mason Medical Center; CEO Transition Coming at Denver Health


Becker's Hospital Review published a piece about the first 10 years of Lean at Seattle's Virginia Mason Medical Center:  10 Years Later: Virginia Mason Production System Still Going Strong.

The article highlights some of the reasons for the longevity of Lean at VMMC, including:

  • C-level and senior leaders being engaged in culture change
  • Engaging front-line staff in identifying waste and improving processes
  • Partnering with outside organizations, including working with distributors to improve their supply chain

You can read about their Lean journey in the outstanding book Transforming Health Care: Virginia Mason Medical Center's Pursuit of the Perfect Patient Experience.

The CEO at Virginia Mason, Dr. Gary Kaplan, has been a consistent presence during their entire Lean journey. ThedaCare's Lean journey survived and continued to prosper when current CEO Dr. Dean Gruner replaced Dr. John Toussaint. Some other organizations have seen their Lean programs fade away after a leadership change at the top, including Wiremold and some healthcare organizations, sadly.

In related news, Dr. Patricia Gabow, the CEO of Denver Health is retiring after about 20 years at the helm. Considering all of their success at Denver Health, we can only hope that the next CEO continues to move things forward, for the sake of their patients, their staff, and their community.


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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