• Industry: Healthcare
  • Type: Survey report
  • Date: 4/1/2013

System-wide change: ThedaCare 

System-wide change: ThedaCare
As one of the first hospitals to apply Lean methodologies, ThedaCare is widely considered as a leading advocate, delivering improved patient care an outcomes, reduced cost and waiting times, and better staff engagement.

The challenge

Having initially embraced Lean in 2003, ThedaCare, a community-owned health system, made significant strides to enhance quality and reduce waste. However, by 2008, leadership sought to raise the bar to meet its continuous improvement goals – in particular to increase productivity by 10 percent annually.

This entailed radical changes to the way its managers and leaders went about their daily work.

The journey

ThedaCare’s Business Performance System™ is an organization-wide quality improvement program with a structured approach to daily gains, training content for all staff and managers, and a direct link between all activities and the overall strategic direction.

The majority of its successes now stem from daily continuous improvement at the frontline rather than dedicated project teams conducting programs. For example, in 2011 alone, more than 20,000 staff ideas were implemented across the organization.

Despite these highly impressive results – which compare favorably to virtually any other healthcare provider – ThedaCare’s management team is the first to admit that this is just the start, and often looks outside of the sector for inspiration from companies like Toyota, which alone generates more than 2 million ideas annually.

Through strong engagement of frontline staff, ThedaCare is building an entire community of problem solvers, with a culture of standard work and visual controls to sustain any gains.

Success to date

Teams at ThedaCare are now able to prioritize and pursue ongoing daily improvement opportunities, all carried out within a structured management reporting system that ensures alignment with the organizational goals.

In 2010, two of ThedaCare’s largest hospitals enjoyed improvements in over 80 percent of safety, quality, patient and staff satisfaction indicators. And these institutions also managed to raise both productivity and financial results in spite of increasing Medicaid (US public health scheme) volumes – even though these patients have significantly lower reimbursement levels.

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