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A lot of people say that they are patient-centered, but you have to hear it from the leaders.Can they give up their own self-guided interests to those of the patient?Eisenberg Patient Safety and Quality Award issued by the National Quality Forum and the Joint Commission.

Virginia Mason’s journey has been the subject of a number of books on the topic of lean management in health care, including the excellent Transforming Health Care by Charles Kenney (the book we have gifted most often to our clients at Shinka Management).But, when we were looking for a management method, we didn’t find it. So, we were beginning to think that maybe the answers were outside of the health care industry. Smith: When did you decide to take your executive team over to Japan? Dr Kaplan: Well, the people at Boeing said that if you were really serious, you need to go to the source, you need a deep immersion experience.We came home totally different – we were thinking differently – that’s why we continue to take people to Japan almost every year. Was it knowledge or attitude, or was it belief, a change of thinking about what’s possible? One answer is that it was learning in a different culture, looking at something that you were not familiar with seeing; Toyota’s history, Toyota’s production, working on a line in Hitachi; and then each night was a debrief, a very long debrief of what we saw, what did it mean to what we were doing at Virginia Mason, and what is the relevance to health care?Being in our comfort zone keeps us from processing information. When you have a surgeon dependant on a nurse or medical assistant to help them understand what’s going on in the assembly line it flattens the hierarchy that exists in health care.We always fall back on what we know to be true and our foundations. As Henry says, a big part of the trip is being away from home and in the deep conversations we have with each other, many of which are structured fundamentally – I lead those – and many of them are also impromptu conversations including confronting our own weaknesses or things at home that aren’t going well that we are hesitant to talk about.

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