[Shtoom] Alexis Koskan - Leaning Toward Lean: Clear Thinking For Better Health(Care)

paul.kholer paul.kholer paul.kholer at gmail.com
Sat Sep 15 13:20:50 CEST 2007

Alexis Koskan

Mindfulness is all about paying attention. It's amazing what can be
accomplished when mindfulness is applied to systems that need all the
attention they can get. If there's an industry that needs some CPR and TLC,
it's healthcare.

Cindy Jimmerson is a 30-year trauma nurse who is passionate about
streamlining healthcare processes. Her consulting company, Lean HealthCare
West, is blasting through always-done-it-that-way thinking to reduce waiting
time for patients, eliminate staff errors, and save hospitals and patients
millions of dollars.

She is the Queen of Lean in hospitals, and she's on a mission to improve the
health of our country's largest industry--$1.76 trillion in 2002, and soon
to explode as the baby-boomers hit their sixties.

When it comes to looking for powerful tools for transforming processes,
we're fortunate to have a proven model that continues to outperform peers
around the world. The Toyota Production System was originally developed by
an American, W. Edwards Deming, who couldn't get anyone in the U.S. to pay
attention to his approach. The Japanese listened and learned. Today, TPS
continues to propel industries toward greater productivity, less waste,
improved quality, and increased workplace appreciation.

Cindy's firm takes TPS straight to the ER and beyond. Now, you might think
that a model focusing on getting product moved through the assembly line
more efficiently is completely inappropriate for handling human patients.
You would be dead wrong.

TPS focuses on adding value to what matters most--in this case, caring for
patients. In doing so, it takes a hard look at every step taken which
results in less contact with those who need care. The customer is king, and
in healthcare, the customer is the patient. Instead of developing ways to
make hospitals more profitable by relegating the patient to widget status,
TPS restores the patient as the primary focus. How refreshing!

There's a common misconception that people do not like change. I happen to
love rearranging rooms every season. However, I'd probably get a little
cranky if I walked into my house and found that someone else had moved all
the furniture.

The real story is that people do not like change that is imposed upon them,
but they appreciate being part of the solution. Employees using TPS love
having the opportunity to creatively explore options that allow them to
perform their work with greater efficiency. And why not? It helps them
reconnect to the best parts of their job.

Toyota walks its talk. It would be one thing if the company had a policy of
being "open to suggestions" while rarely making any changes. But Toyota
consistently acts on its employees' recommendations. In fact, the most
recent figures indicate that the company implemented 99% of its yearly total
of over 700,000 employee ideas!

That same emphasis on valuing the knowledge and experience of employees and
trusting them to develop better processes is the key to tackling
healthcare's estimated waste--a whopping 50%.

TPS is mindfulness in action--paying attention to extra steps, inconvenient
sequences, and indirect communication. The best part? Anyone can do it.

Doctors, nurses and other hospital workers are hard-working, compassionate
people who are committed to providing their patients with top-notch care.
Broken systems get in the way. Mindful management can repair those systems,
and in the process, everyone wins.

Mindfulness at work? It works.
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