Posted by: knightbird | May 25, 2010

A Hard Nut To Crack

The Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC) is the primary hospital for Chugachmiut patients. Southcentral Foundation (SCF) provides primary medical care services. In December I wrote a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of each organization asking them to explore Lean Healthcare. By then I was aware of the extraordinary results achieved by Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, so much so that I sought out VMMC’s former President, J. Michael Rona, to be a keynote speaker at the very first Lean Healthcare conference in Alaska in 2007. Our Lean Sensei, Dr. Tom Jackson, met Mr. Rona at this conference and began the collaboration that led to creation of the Rona Consulting Group. As Chugachmiut continued its Lean Management implementation, I began to learn of other health care organizations other than VMMC who were achieving incredible results as well. I truly wanted the two organizations that served us to do the same. I have been frustrated.

ANMC has started to explore a “Tool Based” Lean implementation. By this I mean they are attempting to use the tools of Lean, but the leadership hasn’t started to grasp the importance of a “Culture Based” Lean implementation. A Culture Based transformation focuses on respect for people-Employees, Customers, Partners and Society. Taylor based Theory X management is changed to Theory Y management, performance evaluations are eliminated, and team based improvements focusing on value streams are pursued. Just using the tools of lean limits an organization to mediocre results. The other part of a Culture Based transformation focuses on “Continuous Improvement.” The mantra of Culture Based Lean is the pursuit of perfection even if it’s not achievable. Every employee has to know that sending a defect to a customer is to be avoided using every tool at our disposal.

This December will mark  four years since I brought information about Lean Healthcare to both organizations. Not much has happened, but I remain ever hopeful that either organization will find a senior executive with the curiosity to seek out talented executives like J. Michael Rona, Dr. John Toussaint, former Thedacare President  and CEO, or Paul Levy, President and CEO of Beth Israel Deacons Medical Center, to ask them about their experience with Lean Healthcare. I hope this dream of mine becomes a reality sooner rather than later. My patients deserve no less.

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