What hospitals can learn from the Cheesecake Factory

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As the healthcare industry continues to consolidate, hospitals should look to restaurant chains like the Cheesecake Factory to successfully deliver quality, coordinated and affordable services to the masses, Atul Gawande wrote in a New Yorker article.

Part of the chain-restaurant industry's secret to success is standardizing best practices and quickly diffusing innovations across the network of restaurants. In healthcare, every clinician has their own way of performing certain procedures, leading to unreliable rates of failure, complication and costs, according to the article.

Gawande also noted that chain restaurant cooks have precise instructions about ingredients and objectives, but they also largely rely on "tacit knowledge" to produce consistently quality food for more than 80 million people per year. Moreover, every restaurant has a kitchen manager that rates each plate of food before it can be sent to guests.

Large-scale, production-line medicine is taking root, with operators like Massachusetts-based Steward Health Care System adding hospitals to its low-cost, high-quality patient care network.

In addition to restaurant chains, the car industry and auto-racing also offer efficiency and safety lessons. For example, hospitals can follow Toyota's lead and apply the scientific method to implement operating standards and improvements, Frederick Southwick, manager of New Quality and Safety Initiatives for the University of Florida and Shands Health Care System, wrote in a January Hospital Impact blog post.

"This is not cookbook medicine but rather the best approach for creating good habits that will free everyone to focus on events that are unexpected and which require high-level decision-making," Southwick noted.

To learn more:
- read the New Yorker article

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