For patients of Virginia Mason Medical Center, trips to the hospital can actually be pleasant – or at least free of discomfort and waste. The center is a private, not-for-profit organization offering integrated health services, including a 336-bed hospital in Seattle and a network of primary and specialty care clinics throughout the Puget Sound region. Since 2002, the center has been applying aspects of the Toyota Production System in healthcare. The medical center’s method for managing process improvement is called the Virginia Mason Production System. According to Dr. Gary Kaplan, chairman and CEO, it has been shown to significantly improve the patient healthcare experience. Spending a day seeing these principles in action, as I did this past June, more than demonstrated the program’s success. The presentation below features highlights from a day with Dr. Kaplan and his team at Virginia Mason.

Editor’s note: To learn more about Kaplan and the Virginia Mason Production System, check out the cover story, “4 People You Should Know,” in the September/October 2010 issue of iSixSigma Magazine.

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