NEWBERRY — If being “Lean” worked in helping a small Japanese automotive manufacturing company grow into a world leader (Toyota), then it can certainly work for Newberry County Memorial Hospital and three of its sister hospitals across South Carolina.
No, this isn’t a weight loss competition. Lean is a management philosophy derived largely from the Toyota Production System that seeks to maximize customer value using fewer resources.
Recently, Newberry County Memorial Hospital was selected to participate in the Carolinas Rural Hospital Lean Culture Transformation Collaborative.
The Midlands hospital is one of only four in South Carolina chosen to participate in the unique two-state collaborative created to help small and rural hospitals in the Carolinas improve quality while gaining new efficiencies.
The Carolinas Rural Hospital Lean Culture Transformation Collaborative is a four-year initiative funded in part by a $5 million grant from The Duke Endowment, a North Carolina-based philanthropic organization that focuses its efforts on health care, childcare, higher education, and rural churches in North and South Carolina.
Over the next three years, members of the Collaborative will concentrate on implementing Lean, a business improvement philosophy and practices first applied in manufacturing and now used in all segments of industry, including health care. An example of success in health care is the western North Carolina Rural Hospital Lean Collaborative established in 2008.
Newberry Hospital CEO Ron Vigus said the effort to transform how hospitals do things is well timed.
“Hospitals large and small face a tsunami of issues. Starting in 2013, hospital reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid will be tied to quality of care. Health care reform will mean higher patient volumes. Government and private payers are reducing what they pay for health care services. So hospitals must find better, more efficient ways to deliver the safe, high quality care patients expect,” said Vigus.
He added, “Newberry Hospital is very focused on being the best hospital we can be for our patients, staff and physicians. We are calling our Lean initiative ‘Being Exceptional’ as this reflects our vision of delivering value in the form of high quality health care and customer service to our patients and their families.”
The South Carolina Hospital Association and the North Carolina Hospital Association, in partnership with The Duke Endowment, are leading the Collaborative. The South Carolina Office of Rural Health and the North Carolina Office of Rural Health and Community Care are also involved in the effort.
“We are excited about this opportunity to help small and rural hospitals prepare for the future by improving their processes to deliver greater value to communities, said Thornton Kirby, president and CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association.
Mary Piepenbring, vice president of The Duke Endowment, agreed. “Our Trustees approved this initiative because they recognize how important it is for hospitals across the Carolinas to focus on ways to become more efficient while enhancing quality of care,” she said. “Rural hospitals provide key medical services to residents, and effective implementation of Lean management will lead to improved patient satisfaction and outcomes.”
In addition to Newberry Hospital, Abbeville Area Medical Center, Clarendon Memorial Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg are participating in the Collaborative. The hospitals have committed to a three-year engagement. Additional South Carolina hospitals will be added in 2013.