New collaborative will bring lean principles to health care systems

December 19, 2017

UC Berkeley and seven of North America’s leading hospitals and healthcare systems are taking a cue from the manufacturing industry to find out if embracing the lean system principles made popular by Toyota can help the organizations meet their performance improvement goals.

The UC Berkeley Center for Lean Engagement and Research in Healthcare (CLEAR) is spearheading the initiative, with seven hospitals and health care systems from across the United States and Canada—which includes UCSF Health, Sutter Health, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, Carolinas Health System, Indiana University Health System, Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, Pa., and St. Mary's Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada—are on board as collaborators.

Stephen Shortell

Over the next three years, the participating hospitals and health care systems will assess how lean organizational principles and tools can enhance performance and reduce waste at health care facilities to create greater value for patients.

“The overall goal of this collaborative is to provide evidence-based, actionable knowledge on the extent to which lean methodologies can transform healthcare delivery to eliminate waste and optimize value for the patient,” said Stephen Shortell, professor of the graduate school and dean emeritus at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and co-director of CLEAR.

CLEAR is an affiliate of the Center for Healthcare Organizational and Innovation Research at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health

Researchers at CLEAR will be able to benchmark participants’ efforts against findings from a national survey of lean and related transformational performance efforts that the center previously conducted with the Health Research and Educational Trust of the American Hospital Association.

CLEAR—established in 2016 and supported by The Lean Enterprise Institute, Rona Consulting Group, and Catalysis—defines “lean” as “the development of a culture that enables an overall management system to create value for customers by eliminating waste and solves problems through the daily application of the scientific method in creating standard work.”

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