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conference 09

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A Lean Enterprise Systems Approach to Health Care Transformation


Deborah Nightingale, Ph.D., Professor of the Practice of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems; Co-Director, Lean Advancement Initiative

The U.S. health care delivery system is highly fragmented and comprised of multiple stakeholders that may not necessarily have aligned interests. In response to increasing costs and social pressures, practitioners have adopted methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma within delivery units. However, in order to truly begin resolving the health care systemís problems, a holistic enterprise systems approach is required that addresses the fragmented nature of the health care industry.

For more than 15 years MITís Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI) has been working to transform aerospace and defense enterprises in both industry and government. This partnership has led to the development of methods for holistically solving operational problems and advancing the science of lean thinking and enterprise architecting. Over the past three years, these same enterprise transformation methods have been applied to complex health care systems.

This talk will describe several health care case studies, including examples from Boston area hospitals, the Veterans Health Administration mental health centers, and the drug development and delivery process. Each case will convey the importance of taking an enterprise systems perspective that includes all the key stakeholders. Key insights, findings, and abstractions will be summarized, including critical principles for applying lean thinking to health care enterprises.

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