CHEO efficiency program cuts wait lists, improves patient care
The Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario has cut wait times, saved jobs and improved patient care by deploying a “lean management” system based on a model developed by the Toyota Motor Company.
The system is known as CHEOworks and it’s the hospital’s response to a new provincial funding model that has squeezed its budget and made business-as-usual impossible. CHEO’s core funding has been frozen or cut in four of the past five years, even as wage costs, technology demands and patient volumes have increased.
To do more with less, CHEO has launched a hospital-wide improvement program designed to capitalize on the analytical skills and diagnostic expertise of its entire staff.
“That’s what people in health care do: They solve problems,” said CHEO CEO Alex Munter. “This is really getting them to use that same diagnostic thinking to analyze the workflow and what’s happening on our units — and to make improvements.”
The program shares elements with Toyota’s management system, which propelled the Japanese automaker to the top of its industry through an emphasis on customer value and waste elimination.
During the past decade, the same philosophy has been applied in dozens of North American hospitals searching for the Holy Grail of health care management: measures that cuts costs while improving patient care.
At CHEO, administrators asked doctors, nurses, orderlies and aides to reimagine the hospital by thinking about its value from a patient’s perspective. It meant that staff put common problems under the microscope, and considered new ways to improve wait times and patient safety, reduce the length of hospital stays and improve communication with families.
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