Lean in Mental Healthcare with Sunil Khushalani, MD and Antonio DePaolo, PhD


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My guests for Episode #435 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast are Sunil Khushalani, MD, a psychiatrist who specializes in Addiction Psychiatry, and Antonio DePaolo, PhD, a transformation executive and a Baldrige Fellow with over 22 years of experience in improvement science.

My guests today are the co-authors of the new book, released in December, titled Transforming Mental Healthcare: Applying Performance Improvement Methods to Mental Healthcare.

They are a physician (psychiatrist more specifically) and an industrial engineer:

  • Sunil Khushalani, MD, a psychiatrist who specializes in Addiction Psychiatry
  • Antonio DePaolo, PhD, a transformation executive and a Baldrige Fellow with over 22 years of experience in improvement science.

Today, we discuss topics and questions including:

  •  I'm always fascinated to hear your ‘lean origin stories” if you will
  • Antonio? 16 years in manufacturing, Lean and Six Sigma, GM/Delphi, Sensei Nakao from Shingijutsu
  • Suni? At Shepard Pratt – Chip Davis, patient safety course, Steve SpearFixing Healthcare“, the “Pittsburgh Way” book, “Perfecting Patient Care” with Spear and Paul O'Neill
  • Antonio coming into healthcare? Via Stiles Associates (our sponsor)
  • Experts in behavior — lessons in behavioral health?
  • Ron Oslin webinar on Motivational Interviewing (still trying to find the new location on lean.org) – PDF of his slides
  • “Addicted to the status quo” — How does this idea apply to leaders?
  • “A conservative 30-50% of every step in the mental healthcare process does not help patients feel better or stay better”??
  • Motivations for Lean then and there?
  • Sunil: hearing about quality & safety problems?
  • How did you approach transformation / Lean in the Mental Healthcare setting?
  • 1 in 5 Americans experience a “mental illness” each year — which is most common? How many people don't get access to the right treatment?
  • When should people reach out for mental health care?
  • How do you define Lean Daily Management?
  • Burnout amongst healthcare workers?
  • Sunil – tell us more about the natural reaction to being told?
  • Don't blame people for being resistant to change
  • Pitfalls / lessons learned?? 

Also, check out the Facebook page for their book.

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


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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.


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