Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Toyota at UI

Toyota at UI

Here is a story from my alma mater, The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Good old UIHC has hired an automotive expert to bring lean manufacturing concepts to the hospital. The first project in the ED has reduced wait times and increased patient satisfaction.

This is a great example of a hospital using knowledge from another industry to improve care. While it is generally recognized that we should use “cross-industry fertilization”, I haven’t seen it used extensively in healthcare. I think part of the problem is that we don’t necessarily know where to look. Everyone knows that Toyota (and other manufacturers I am sure) have come up with processes that are extremely efficient. We also know that the banking industry has standardized data, so that ATMs across the world can securely access our account and dispense money. But where else should we look? What does the retail or marketing or shipping industry know that we can learn from? Which industry has better practices in customer satisfaction or rapidly applying research or increasing safety? If we took a broad and systematic look at other industries, we could find opportunities to learn and in turn improve healthcare.

Starbucks makes a great latte, but does it do something else that we could use to lower mortality rates. I think we should find out.

A note to regular Healthcare Tomorrow readers. Sorry about missing my post last week. The well was dry on Monday night. Hopefully it won't happen too much in the future.


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