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Lean Healthcare Reform Means Reforming Healthcare Management

Cambridge, MA, Nov. 17, 2010 — Real healthcare reform will require healthcare to reform its command and control management system in favor of lean management, according to John Toussaint, M.D., CEO of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value and co-author of On the Mend, a book about ThedaCare’s continuing lean transformation.

“The typical healthcare management process is autocratic, top-down, and controlling,” said Toussaint, who is CEO emeritus of ThedaCare, a four-hospital healthcare system in Wisconsin. “In contrast, lean management requires leaders to mentor, facilitate, teach, and remove barriers to problem solving by frontline staff.”  

Continuous improvement by identifying and solving problems is a key enabler of lean healthcare’s fundamental principles: (1) focus on patients and design care around them; (2) identify value for the patient and get rid of everything else (waste); (3) minimize time to treatment.

Toussaint made his remarks in a keynote address yesterday to approximately 2,500 attendees at the 2010 International Excellence Inside Conference, hosted by the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) in Baltimore. 

In On the Mend, Toussaint and Roger Gerard, Ph.D., ThedaCare’s chief learning officer, candidly describe the organization’s continuing lean healthcare journey, which has slashed errors, improved patient outcomes, raised staff morale, and saved $27 million dollars in costs without layoffs.

 The 181-page book, published June 16, 2010, by the Lean Enterprise Institute, explains:

  • How to remodel leadership behaviors to support continuous improvement.
  • How to involve patients in the improvement process.
  • How to engage staff and doctors.
  • How to change healthcare’s “shame and blame” culture.
  • How lean principles improve the quality of healthcare delivery while lowering costs.

 For more information:

- Media: Chet Marchwinski, LEI, cmarchwinski@lean.org, 617-871-2930 

- Testimonials and excerpts from On the Mend

- Conference presentation

 Healthcare Value Leaders Network

This partnership between the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) and the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value (TCHV) brings together two of the world's leaders in lean thinking, with a combined 20 years of experience in lean implementation and education. Working in partnership allows LEI and the TCHV to leverage their unique perspectives and not-for-profit missions to accomplish a shared goal of fundamentally improving healthcare delivery through lean thinking.