Fantastic Mixed Media Online Presentation about Lean in Healthcare


Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 6.42.00 PMI recently stumbled across a very interesting and well-produced mixed-media presentation that starts with the sounds of snow crackling under a pair a boots… a video clip that illustrates Delvecchio Finley, the CEO of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, making a snowy trip to ThedaCare, in Appleton, Wisconsin to learn about Lean and healthcare improvement.

Check out the presentation by Russell Mitchell here. Make sure you are at a computer with speakers or headphones. You might want to view it in a conference room with a team to be able to discuss it.

They introduce a pretty good definition of Lean at the start:

“Lean is a bottom-up approach to identifying and fixing broken systems–for example, a medication delivery system responsible for high rates of hospital errors, or a patient intake process that produces long backlogs and waiting times that muck up schedules and frustrate patients. “Bottom up” means that Lean relies on people closest to the work to fix systemic problems.”

The group, “The Lean Team” included leaders from other California safety-net hospitals, including Anna Roth, CEO of Contra Costa Regional Medical (she's also a blogger).

A video features Mark Smith, founder and CEO of the California HealthCare Foundation, talking about visiting Japan (like Virginia Mason Medical Center) and why Lean is so important in healthcare. Since “healthcare never faced foreign competition” (unlike the auto industry), they were a “latecomer” to Lean, says the presentation.

There's also, in the presentation:

  • A 2.5 minute video with Dr. John Toussaint, former CEO of ThedaCare, talking about their “Lean journey” (including rejecting the approach of big consultants who wanted to focus on headcount reduction)
  • Insights that Lean is challenging and it's easy to slip back into old ways
  • ThedaCare's Kim Barnas talking about their lean management system (she has a book coming out later this year)
  • A video has Dr. Susan Erlich, CEO of San Mateo Medical Center talking about going to the “gemba” and being a Lean leader. She shows her “current experiment” with leader standard work on a white board.
  • Discussion of how the trips to Appleton and Seattle inspired the visitors to “move more aggressively” on their own improvements.

Anyway, check out the presentation here: Getting Lean: A Journey Toward Better HealthcareGreat job by Russell and others who were involved in taking this trip and documenting it. I'm impressed with the message and the creativity in how it was presented.

As they say, we need to stop wasting patients' time, we need to preserve their dignity, and we need to provide the best care possible.


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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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