Low Hanging Fruit Is Lying On the Ground

OHI started following “The Health Care Blog” (THCB) which the Wall Street Journal considers the leading online forum covering the business of healthcare and the new ideas that are changing the health care industry. THCB is read by a daily audience of 4,000 – 5,000 healthcare professionals across a spectrum of roles. These include executives at healthcare networks and organizations, policy makers on the state and federal level, decision-makers, doctors and nurses, med students, investors and entrepreneurs and consumers trying to come to grips with the changes impacting the healthcare system.

A recent post “The Low Hanging Fruit is Lying on the Ground” caught our eye since the topic reflects the transformation of approach we’ve seen in our hospital clients over the past couple years. And this in only one of dozens of thought provoking blogs THCB features. After reading the excerpt below, OHI would welcome the chance to speak with you about how your organization can improve its processes and gather up some of that “low hanging fruit”.

“With hospitals and doctors under tremendous pressure to improve costs and quality fast, clichéd calls to “aim for the low-hanging fruit” are ringing in every boardroom and bedpan from Sarasota to Seattle. But medical providers should set their sights a bit lower. Why? Because “in health care, the low-hanging fruit isn’t just low-hanging fruit; the fruit is lying on the ground, and we have to be careful not to trip over it.”

That’s the axiom that Indiana University management professor Mohan Tatikonda repeats regularly to the physicians in an MBA program for MDs started in 2013 by IU’s Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis. His students, who hail from around the country and have been practicing medicine for an average of 20 years, shortened the phrase to simply “watermelons on the ground.”

It means that first-year MBA concept employed decades ago in most other industries can yield huge results among health care providers. “On average, the state of operations in health care delivery is primitive. Fundamentally primitive,” Tatikonda said. “Just the basic understanding of patient flows, materials flows, information flows. Having them documented and diagrammed. This kind of thing until very recently was just not very common.”

It’s not that things such as Six Sigma or Lean are unknown to health care leaders. Consultant Chip Caldwell estimates that about 75 percent of hospital systems are using Lean in some way, compared with 53 percent identified by a 2009 survey by the Association Society for Quality. Only about one in 10 hospital systems is using Six Sigma currently, Caldwell estimates, down from a peak of popularity in the 2000s.

Some hospitals, such as Virginia Mason and Barnes-Jewish, have employed these techniques to wide acclaim. What few health care provider organizations have done, Tatikonda said, is make a regular, sustained habit of using process improvement concepts, so that all the people in their organizations became used to thinking that way.

For the full article, please follow this link: https://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2015/07/29/the-low-hanging-fruit-is-lying-on-the-ground/

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