Management Improvement History and Health Care

Squeezing the fat from health care [the broken link was removed] by Hanah Cho is another article on lean healthcare. This one provides a better view of the overall picture – especially compared to all those claiming to be one of the first lean thinking effort in healthcare. A good sign was that the author referenced, Going Lean in Health Care, a great report by IHI (James Womack and others).

It is nice to see a recognition of management history (so often missing):

Workers may remember theories such as Total Quality Management, Six Sigma, re-engineering and other business techniques that use flow charts, problem solving and role playing to help make their organizations more effective.

But some health care management experts say that some hospitals – like corporations – have gone through numerous quality improvement methods, only to abandon them for the latest management program.

I think it is wise to think about what improvement methods were tried in the past and try to understand why they failed in order to improve the chances of success today. I think the many of the things which tripped up TQM, Six Sigma, re-engineering… efforts in the past are waiting to do the same to those efforts today, including lean thinking efforts.

Related: PBS Documentary on Improving Hospital ManagementHealthcare Costs Spike Again

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