Update: Washington hospital cuts costs with Toyota model

Seattle's Virginia Mason Hospital faced the same problems with waste and delays as hospitals across the United States. As we've previously reported, by vigorously applying principles used by car manufacturer Toyota, the hospital has made significant progress in streamlining its processes and cutting waste, executives say. And improvements continue to come.

Every year, hospital CEO Dr. Gary Kaplan takes staff members to Toyota's factories in Japan to observe what the manufacturer does to achieve its remarkable levels of quality control and efficiency. Then, they bring the lessons home.

For one thing, Kaplan roams the hospital floor every day looking for problems and brainstorming solutions, just as Toyota executives spend time on the factory floor. But he's not the only one searching. Everyone, whether a nurse or a janitor, is encouraged to look for ways to change processes to make operations more efficient. And the staff holds "Rapid Process Improvement Workshops" each week to share what they've discovered and build on their ideas.

These changes are working. For example, nurses figured out that they could spend more time with patients, rather than at nursing stations, by using computers on wheels. In a longer four-day workshop, meanwhile, the staff acted out what happens to a new patient, and found 10 things they could improve immediately.

To learn more about Virginia Mason's efforts:
- read this CBS News piece
- check out this video

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