First few Article Sentences
Nowhere in our society is process improvement needed more than in health care. Growing at an annual rate over 6%, health care costs are outpacing inflation and wages. The media is focusing a lot of attention on inadequate access, service delays, error rates and less-than optimal outcomes, but significant labor shortages and care-giver burnout (including physicians) also threaten quality. At the same time, baby boomers grow older, the elderly live longer, and the prevalence of chronic disease increases; the industry faces significant increases in demand but limited resources to manage it.
While there is no panacea for all that ails the healthcare system, physician groups and hospitals can achieve dramatic improvements in efficiency, quality, and satisfaction by embracing system-level process improvement. Successful implementation requires a change in methods -- and a change in leadership. This shift in focus is neither easy nor quick, but the long term benefits are well-worth the investment. Using lean principles as a foundation, healthcare organizations can do something that matters right now: implement improvement in their core business processes and move towards a more efficient overall delivery system.