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Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

Learning from Lean and other best practices inside and outside of healthcare

Learning from Lean and other best practices inside and outside of healthcare

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imageMy eyes were immediately drawn today to a new H&HN Daily post by Mathew Weinstock, senior editor of Hospitals and Health Networks magazine.  The post got my attention for two reasons.  First, it was only a few weeks ago that I had an opportunity to meet with Mathew and his staff during a short visit to the Chicago area.  We spent the better part of an hour exchanging information and sharing thoughts about the current state of Health ICT not only in the US but around the world.  I was of course curious to see what Mathew might write about in his latest article.  Sure enough, he mentioned several of the same health organizations we had discussed during our meeting.  The post also got my attention because of its focus on Lean.  Many of the most outstanding healthcare organizations I have come to know (or in some cases actually worked for in the past) have made Lean a centerpiece of their organizational culture.

I won’t repeat the information in Mathew’s well written article, but I will expand a bit on the topic.  Lean isn’t about cost cutting.  It’s a methodology for driving organizational efficiency, or better yet for driving out inefficiency in your hospital or clinic operations.  The result by default reduces the cost of operations by eliminating waste in your enterprise.  It also quite often improves operational throughput (of patients for example) resulting in higher revenues.

imageThe names of the hospitals and health systems referenced by Mathew Weinstock in his article all share something in common.  First, they have excellent executive and clinical leadership.  Second, they have all been willing to explore best practices from other industries and have found ways to incorporate some of those ideas in delivering better, more efficient healthcare.  Finally (and I have to get this in) many of these organizations are leaders in Health ICT who also happen to be some of Microsoft’s very best customers.  These hospitals don’t wait for what’s next, they help establish what’s next by using our most current solutions for optimizing their IT infrastructure, advancing communication and collaboration, and modernizing health information.  When we talk about connected health and real impact for a better tomorrow, these organizations are some of the ones leading the way.

So kudos to all of the organizations mentioned in the article.  Thank you, Mathew, for shining the spotlight on some genuine health industry stars.

Bill Crounse, MD                   Senior Director, Worldwide Health          Microsoft

 

 

  • Dr. Crounse - Thank you for your dead on observations about Lean. In North Carolina there is a lot of work going on in small and rural hospitals with phenomenal results. Small organizations are going through Lean Transformation, a complete cultural shift where every individual in the organization is engaged in quality improvement and monitoring. A student of healthcare as a hospital administrator I see this as nothing short of revolutionary. 30-year veteran nurses now saying that this is not just another "QI" effort and becoming engaged in making the hospital a safer and more efficient place. Lean can very easily become just another "QI Flavor of the Day" if we let it  by implementing only the tools of lean or it can transform our industry. Thank you for your leadership!

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