A Network of Providers Leverages Lean for Success

A recent Modern Healthcare article which discussed the benefits of Lean, noted that if one hospital is facing a problem with quality or safety, chances are pretty good that another probably has the same or similar problem. Makes sense, right?

A group of providers across the country came together and created a network called Catalyst to focus on how to fix problems using Lean management. Their focus was clinical: hospital-acquired infections. A primary objective was reducing the rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI). Unfortunately, the deadly complication still affects more than 30,000 patients a year with a 12% to 25% mortality rate, at a cost to the U.S. healthcare system of more than $1.8 billion since 2001.

One of the members of the Lean network has addressed its CLABSI problem by standardizing processes and implementing frequent evaluations of patients’ need for a central line. The result was a 64.3% drop in infections from 2015 to 2016. Successful solutions and standardization like these are shared across the Lean network so that providers can learn from each other.

The director of Catalyst notes that many of the solutions developed by members “stress the involvement of an entire facility in solving major problems, not just a particular unit or department…It’s crucial that the hospital’s most senior leaders understand and are open to the Lean transformation process so that they can make significant changes that must be initiated by top executives.”

I agree. Even though this example is clinical, Lean initiatives of any form can have benefits across healthcare. And, when everyone is a stakeholder in that success, transformational change can happen.


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