Most helpful positive review
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
How Lean Health Care Transformation Can Work
on January 4, 2011
The more you know about lean transformation the more you'll envy the Virginia Mason Medical Center (VMMC) for having the right people in the right places at the right times. At the end of the 1990s VMMC faced a struggle for survival as an in-the-black, separate entity. The CEO, Gary Kaplan, an MD and highly regarded executive saw the need for dramatic action and found it, after energetic searching, in Toyota Way thinking and acting. He created and nurtured the informed consent of the board of directors and, through John Black, engaged the Japanese consulting firm Shingijutsu. The executive team joined in embracing what became known as the Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS) and, with the clinical staff, hammered out the Virgina Mason Medical Center Physician Compact, the basis for concordant action in the VMPS.
What's really to envy is the constancy of purpose that VMMC has maintained: when transformation efforts flagged or failed or worse - and they did, regularly - execs and docs, with board support, doubled-down and solved the problems. Each time that happened momentum increased: physicians saw better outcomes and less wasted effort, patients had better experiences, nurses spent more time actually helping patients, payers got to spend money where it mattered more, medical errors (and malpractice insurance cost) dropped dramatically, the list goes on and on, each recovered success synergizing more successes.
As Donald Berwick points out in his Foreword, VMMC isn't perfect yet but, crucially, improvement continues apace: the board of directors, unified behind the VMPS, is chaired by Carolyn Corvi (the Boeing exec who, with Shingijutsu guidance, made the moving line in 737 final assembly happen), executives have become sophisticated in lean system dynamics, clinical staff are well aligned with the VMPS, and VMMC runs significantly in the black. Now all VMMC needs is a rational system of health care payment in which outcomes are rewarded instead of procedure delivery.
The author, Charles Kenney, has produced a highly readable book with plenty of rich, authentic-seeming detail. I am a fast reader somewhat familiar with the sorts of issues addressed in the book, yet despite this being a relatively short book Kenney presents so much to think about that the pleasure of reading the book lasted much longer than anticipated.