Lean management boosts patient satisfaction to 95%

Wisconsin's ThedaCare embraced Toyota's Lean manufacturing techniques back in 2007 and has since seen impressive results in better quality and patient satisfaction and lower costs and length of stay, according to a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Using the auto manufacturer's approach to improve quality and efficiency, the four-hospital system added new roles, responsibilities and care processes, which involved a clinician team visiting a patient within 90 minutes of admission.

The admission team also worked with patients to design a unified, comprehensive care plan that can include diagnostic tests, specialty consultations, pain management and home health arrangements, according to the report.

Without a defined care plan, medical errors often sneak through the cracks of a disorganized delivery system, Frederick Southwick, manager of New Quality and Safety Initiatives for the University of Florida and Shands Health Care System, said when discussing the benefits of the Toyota Production System.

"Define the work that needs to be done, how it should be done, and who is responsible for its completion. Standardize this practice for all healthcare staff and all potential diagnostic situations," he wrote in a January Hospital Impact blog post.

After applying the Toyota's Lean strategies, ThedaCare saw monthly direct cost per case drop up to 20 percent between 2006 and 2010. The number of "excellent" patient satisfaction ratings jumped from 68 percent in 2006 to 95 percent in 2010, noted AHRQ.

Given the pilot program's success, the health system is expanding the Toyota-based model to all of its medical-surgical inpatient units and expects a full rollout by early 2013, the report noted.

To learn more:
- here's the report