Covid Testing, Treatment, and Vaccination at Cleveland Clinic: Nate Hurle


Scroll down for video, transcript, how to subscribe, and more

My guest for Episode #404 is Nate Hurle, a Senior Director of Enterprise Continuous Improvement at Cleveland Clinic. He was previously a guest on Episode 282. He was also recently a virtual keynote speaker for the Society for Health Systems annual conference.

Today, Nate shares stories and reflections from the past year — the pandemic year — and how Cleveland Clinic quickly stood up drive-thru testing, how they built a 1000-bed hospital (that thankfully wasn't needed), and how they've been ramping up Covid vaccination.

What happened when Nate got a surprise phone call about the need for testing to be up and running “in a few days.” Why was the approach of “get it up and running… then make it better” a useful one and how were mockups and other methods used to put safety first, given the cars and people on foot.

How did they utilize effective standardized work and training methods, huddles, and continuous improvement methods? Why was the question of “What's the most important problem to solve?” such a useful one?

How are they balancing the need for higher throughput with having a patient experience that's not too rushed? How did Cleveland Clinic get so much done in such a short period of time, and what were the lessons learned that could be applied in more normal times? Why is Cleveland Clinic now looking to continuously improve (again) their Cleveland Clinic Improvement Model?

We also chat a bit about their adoption of “Process Behavior Charts” (as I have written about) and we'll talk about that more in a future episode.

Here is the Dolly Parton video I mentioned — Please go get vaccinated when you can!

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in their 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network

You can listen to the audio or watch the video, below. I hope you enjoy it like I did.

Video of the Episode:

Automated Transcripts (Not Defect Free)

Thanks for listening or watching!

This podcast is part of the Lean Communicators network… check it out!

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleSome Recent Episodes of “Habitual Excellence” and “My Favorite Mistake”
Next articleA Kata Geek in the Communities: Deondra Wardelle
Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. I’ve noticed that there have been numerous issues regarding vaccines. Some are unavoidable like getting cut in winter storms but there are also just a lack of people showing up to take them. Is there a Lean solution that would encourage people to take the vaccines that places like Walgreens and CVS offer? Or do you think those companies should offer an hour the the people who aren’t qualified to receive the vaccine to come in and receive them instead of throwing them away?

  2. Thanks for your comment, Josh. The main battle right now is not enough vaccine supply. I visited a clinic on Saturday (to see their process, a “gemba visit”) and they have the capacity to do 5,000 shots a day. They were only able to book 1,500 appointments because they aren’t getting enough vaccine.

    Once the supply chain issue is resolved, then “vaccine hesitancy” (a.k.a. people who don’t want to take the vaccine) becomes a challenge. We need to convince enough people to do it so we can get herd immunity.

    Rather than finding people last minute to take extra doses before they expire, I think we should be solving the problem of “why do we have leftover doses?” That’s a solvable problem and some hospitals have done it.

    I posted on LinkedIn about this today:

  3. I think this also comes back to what is the most important problem to solve…today. In the vaccine world that still seems to be supply (vs people wanting it or not having the capacity to administer). Soon enough the problem will shift though.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.