A radically different model for Healthcare

Healthcare is THE topic of 2012 across the country as it few things touch people so viscerally. It is very hard to have a discussion, in fact, without battle lines being drawn around politics, personal or professional perspective. There is general agreement that something has to change but little agreement on what and how.

Going to the source

My article in the Harvard Business Review last week, The Healthcare Reform That Can’t Be Stopped, talked about the great digitization that is occurring and the Pandora’s Box this has opened in healthcare. I also made reference to the Toyota Production System being used to varying degrees by healthcare providers. Researching the article was very eye-opening and I decided I had to see for myself. I chose to visit ThedaCare, an Appleton, Wisconsin-based healthcare network.

ThedaCare applied the Toyota Production system to their practice of healthcare starting a decade ago. More than a methodology change, they have changed the culture of the organization so thoroughly that this  way of work is now in their DNA.  As Dr. John Toussaint of Thedacare put it, “The answer is in. It works. The trick is to know how to get it in.”

Getting it in

ThedaCare is completely organized around the soft skills that are the hardest part to instill in an organization: Creating a culture of respect for people. They do this through a simple image that expresses their core principles and aligns continuous improvement and metrics under each. Everywhere we went, from the lab and call center to their senior living residence, large boards are used to ensure people are aligned with the central goals of the organization.

What makes it truly remarkable is the executive suite that has an entire room dedicated to summarizing these principles and providing the roll up of effort across so many different work groups and departments. The focus, even at the top is clearly on ThedaCare’s front line workers and their ability to solve problems and improve performance. Toussaint asked an excellent question as the final day ended, “How can healthcare make people healthier if there isn’t a system that involves everyone and transparency in measuring performance?”

For more resources, see LeanROI, Dr. Ideas, and the Harvard Business Review.

Advertisements

Categories: Continuous Improvement, Disciplines, Healthcare, Markets

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

Subscribe to the blog

Subscribe and receive an email when new articles are published

7 Comments on “A radically different model for Healthcare”

  1. April 23, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Great post – really like the way you go beyond theory and show an actual example where continuous improvement is being used in healthcare today. Very valuable to see not only that it can be done, but that it is being done.

  2. April 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Thanks, Tom. It was remarkable.

  3. David
    April 28, 2012 at 6:59 am #

    I am a doctor and engineer.. I have done some LEAN training and I certainly think there is a use for this in many areas of healthcare, both direct and indirect such as supply chain. Here is the difference… in Toyota there is a convergent capacity to change… if the flows show too much waste in material, HR, poor supplier quality etc… there is ONE decision maker who can, if priorities prevail, get rid of the problem. IN healthcare depending on who is directing the study there is still the risk to avoid the issues if they seem to hot or aren’t what the politic wants to hear at the time. E.g. what if flow shows we should have more evening clinics or 24/7 supply of some scarce resource… would the admin/politic allow it. I think the other thing it does is shine a light, a light that would be embarrassing for those who historically have with puffed chests and little facts made bold statements about how their “system” is so effective and efficient ALREADY.
    Cynical maybe, or at least realistic. Keep the pressure on to do this stuff.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. If healthcare managed restaurants | BPM For Real - April 26, 2012

    […] The following first appeared on Call It Anything. […]

  2. Accountable healthcare: Can ya get there from here? | BPM For Real - May 16, 2012

    […] becomes, “How much can that learning curve be accelerated?” At ThedaCare in Wisconsin, they’ve made a remarkable journey in Lean healthcare but it has taken twelve years. They’re ready to be accountable as quickly as the market asks […]

  3. Healthcare, Your Process is Your Product | BPM For Real - May 20, 2012

    […] process improvement and process innovation within healthcare at organizations like Virginia Mason, ThedaCare, and others. They are able to apply these process innovation principles to impact the real outcome […]

  4. Technology, not politicians, will rescue healthcare | Successful Workplace - October 12, 2013

    […] has been steadily rising for decades. For a myriad of reasons, healthcare has been passed over for standardized work, analytics-driven processes, and a host of other advances that are yesterday’s stories in the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: