Some Hospital Leaders Making Big Strides in Value

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , August 28, 2009

Brett Esrock, president and chief operating officer at Covenant Health System in Lubbock, TX, is also a believer. He's only been at Covenant for two years, but he's spreading the gospel of Lean there because of his 20 years at St. Louis's SSM Healthcare, which has espoused Lean techniques for nearly that long.

"I drank the Kool-Aid," he says.

Esrock throws his employees into so-called three-day "rapid improvement events,"—time away from work spent on redesigning processes for efficiency. "Day one, they look at you like you're crazy. They want to run away; they're not management, after all. By day two, they are discovering the problems, and by day three, they now understand they're in charge of their own future and can make substantive impacts on patient costs, hospital costs, and improve their work lives."

That's what Esrock calls the "triple win."

"If we do this right, one, we'll deliver better patient care. Two, they'll be happier staff members. Three, you use less resources and you save money at the end of the day. There's not a single event that we've done without some cost savings or revenue enhancement."

Talk about good unintended consequences.

Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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