"I would list Lean as one of the key things we've initiated here," she says. "I'm an old lady, so I've seen a lot, and it's one of the most powerful tools I've seen in healthcare in my 40 years."
That power wasn't immediately apparent. Most of the $158 million in waste reduction attributable to Lean have come relatively recently, within the past couple of years. Gabow thinks what's truly revolutionary about Lean is that it empowers people in the front lines of care to take action when they see waste at work, but it's far from an immediate fix.
"Most of the time when people talk about empowering the front lines, it's meaningless because they don't have the tools," she says. "Lean gives you those tools."
In healthcare especially, she says, Lean can make big positive changes happen.
Looking forward to $200 million
"Getting rid of waste not only saves money, which, heaven knows we need to do in healthcare, but it also improves quality," she says.
The implementation of Lean workgroups throughout the organization, which, in another of Gabow's list of accomplishments, includes a wide variety of connected organizations outside the hospital, has taken some time. As the savings have accumulated, she remains underwhelmed.