Hospitals Adopt Toyota’s Management Techniques for Improved Quality, Efficiency
The Wall Street Journal on Friday looked at an increasing number of health care providers using management and productivity techniques from auto manufacturer Toyota to lower costs and increase efficiency. Concepts such as "total quality management," "lean management" and "root-cause analysis" were made popular in the 1950s by W. Edwards Deming, an American statistician who worked with Toyota and other Japanese companies to cut costs and increase productivity post-World War II. Several U.S. companies applied variations of the techniques to their products, and years later, the methods took "a roundabout path to reach the hospitals," according to the Journal. Techniques such as locating the underlying causes of mistakes and mapping out steps in several processes have allowed some hospitals to reduce costly infections and increase patient flow. In Pittsburgh, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is promoting Toyota techniques in health care through the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative, which offers a five-day training course based largely on Toyota's management system. The Journal profiles several hospitals that are now applying Toyota's methods. Some say they have had to "play down the Toyota name" to avoid a "culture clash" between increased efficiency and quality caregiving, according to the Journal (Wysocki, Wall Street Journal, 4/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.