1 April, 2008
A UK/US alliance of world leading experts in lean healthcare has been established to help the NHS get in better shape to achieve gold standard service.
Michael Rona and Christina Saint Martin, from the US-based Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, have joined Manchester’s Manufacturing Institute to apply the best practice lean methodologies that have revolutionised performance in industry and the US healthcare sector – to UK hospitals.
They are the architects behind The Toyota Production System in Healthcare – having studied in Japan with the original masters of lean – and translated this proven organisational improvement programme to achieve impressive results at Virginia Mason.
The Virginia Mason Production System they designed and implemented has improved healthcare delivery, promoted a culture of seeking zero defects and created a more affordable product. Outcomes include cutting infection rates to almost zero, freeing up over 13,000 sq ft of space, reducing staff walking by 50 miles a day and vastly improving patient satisfaction.
Christina, who has moved to Manchester to spearhead the lean healthcare service, is the former Vice President of Virginia Mason, a $650 million tertiary healthcare operation.
Former President, Michael, who is America’s leading expert on lean healthcare, will be spending one week each month working as a consultant to The Manufacturing Institute.
Said Christina: “While a growing number of NHS managers and clinicians understand the basic concepts of lean, nobody has taken this powerful methodology all the way. Our new team will set out to change that.
“With challenging targets on patient waiting times, environmental performance and control of infection – as well as the drive to balance budgets and achieve Foundation Trust status, the NHS has an opportunity to transform itself beyond all recognition. I know this is possible, because this is what has been achieved at Virginia Mason.”
Added Michael Rona: “The potential gains of using lean in the NHS are huge, with the key benefit that improvements will be sustainable in the long term because lean embeds a new culture of continual checks and improvements. The NHS has a long history of trying to improve services against aggressive goals, but it lacks a sustainable methodology to achieve those goals and avoid the need to constantly set new ones.
“The Toyota Production System has been proven time and again to succeed across a wide range of industries. While people are not cars, everything we do in healthcare – procedures, appointments, bills – is a process. The trick is how to do it better.”
The Manufacturing Institute’s lean healthcare team – comprising lean leaders with many years of experience in industry – has already been achieving powerful results in partnership with UK hospitals.
When they helped University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust to apply lean to three areas at Lancaster Royal Infirmary, they found duplication of effort, overstuffed filing systems, badly-designed working areas and wasted internal capacity which impacted on patients, consultants and staff. Lean techniques have now led to easier and quicker retrieval of medical records, more patients seen and fewer missing clinic notes.
A similar programme at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust – one of the first 10 Foundation Trusts in the NHS – improved throughput in radiology at Stepping Hill Hospital by up to 50 per cent.
Meanwhile, at Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, improving ‘flow’ in the dispensary for prescriptions reduced the average picking time from 1.5 hours to 20 minutes, and showed how to reduce inventory by £150,000 without affecting supply.
Source: The Manufacturing Institute