Toyota Inspires U.S. Hospitals to Exercise Better Management

What did Virginia Mason Medical Center CEO, Dr. Gary Kaplan, do when his facility started to lose money in 1998? He visited hospitals around the U.S... He talked with many of the smartest minds in the industry. And after two years... he decided there wasn't one institution in the entire medical system whose footsteps he felt were worth following. So, he turned to Japanese automaker, Toyota, for inspiration, instead.

Yes, three years after starting his mission, Dr. Kaplan decided to focus on emulating Toyota's lean management style, which focuses on eliminating waste in the production process. According to efficiency expert, Charles Kenney, author of Transforming Healthcare, "He [Dr. Kaplan] turned to the Toyota production system because it was clear to him that taking these principals and tools and adopting them to healthcare could significantly make Virginia Mason a more efficient operation."1

In one of the first Toyota concepts Dr. Kaplan instituted, value-stream mapping, he confirmed that while unintentionally, the Virginia Mason Medical Center was taking patients' lives while they were at their most precious and wasting huge amounts of their time. As a result the team was able to then use Toyota's lean management approach to refine the process of administering chemotherapy treatments. Through this process of simplification and standardization, the medical center was able to reduce the amount of time it takes a patient to receive treatment by a whopping 50 percent.

What a tremendous time savings not to mention a tremendous value to sick patients! And Kaplan's success did not go unnoticed. According to Kenney, "...The Virginia Mason Production System is now viewed throughout the world by many people as a viable alternative to the current system."2 And, it has since been adopted by dozens of hospitals across the U.S., including Barnes, Jewish in St. Louis, Missouri.

That said, the process of adopting lean management is continuous, and certainly not for organizations unable or unwilling to invest the time and resources needed not only to implement the plan but to push past resistant staff members. And so, we leave you with some Toyota sensei wisdom: We live in the biggest room of the house, the room for improvement.

Interested in more Toyota news? Stay tuned. Motorcars Toyota in Cleveland Heights is dedicated to keeping you informed.

Source< 1,2

Categories: News, Toyota, Technology, Cleveland


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