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Case Studies

We've had a lot of success with our work. You can read some examples of our outcomes from using the VMPS tools and methodologies at Virginia Mason.

Bringing innovation to daily work
Innovation is everybody’s job at organizations working to transform themselves. At Virginia Mason, each person in the organization — from the executives to the front line staff — is encouraged to apply lean concepts and innovation to their day-to-day work.

A true culture of innovation inspires staff to routinely try new things without worry of success or failure, because it is about trying many ideas to find the one that will work best. Leaders encourage teams to break out of their mental valleys — or established patterns of thinking — so they can look at solutions in a different way. Virginia Mason uses four approaches to foster daily innovation ...

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Picture This: A real-time visual monitoring system that helps clinicians meet their quality goals
Relying on memory isn’t a reliable strategy. So at Virginia Mason, hospitalist Barry Aaronson, MD, had an idea to support clinicians to do the right thing. Working together with the frontline staff and informatics team, they developed an electronic dashboard that reminds clinicians to address specific preventive measures in care in real time.

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Using Lean, Architect Connects to his Clients’ Changing Needs
“We now use our own version that’s changed our entire design process with our clients,” says Jaeger. Two VMPS concepts that Jaeger learned from the Virginia Mason Institute are the Flows of Medicine and Cellular Layout, the approach of locating supplies and resources close to the point of care.

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Adding Valuable Nursing Time at the Bedside
Nurses play a vital role in hospital care, keeping patients safe and comfortable for optimal healing. The time nurses spend away from the bedside is often devoted to frustrating and exhausting tasks, which increases stress and burnout. Studies have also shown that the more frequently a nurse is interrupted while administering medications, the greater the risk of an error.

Virginia Mason has made several changes to assure that its nurses spend more time caring directly for patients. Initially Virginia Mason's hospital nurses were spending only 35 percent of their time at the bedside.

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Mistake Proofing Primary Care
Each day mistakes and defects occur in health care, and they can harm patients while eroding patient and staff satisfaction. Care teams spend valuable time fixing mistakes that could otherwise be spent caring for patients. Mistakes and defects also add to the overall cost of care. Examples in primary care include rooming mistakes, scheduling patients for the wrong provider, medication errors and neglected tests and vaccines.

Virginia Mason has been on a journey to mistake proof primary care since 2002. One guiding principle has been to equip clinicians with vital patient information they need to care for their patients. This lean concept is defined as "jidoka" or having the instructions and knowledge necessary to do one's job right the first time, at the point of care. The following improvements were designed with input from doctors, nurses, medical assistants and customer-service representatives from Virginia Mason's Primary Care Department.

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Managing Phone Calls in Primary Care
Indirect patient care—such as responding to patient phone calls—consumes a great deal of clinic time and is currently not reimbursed. In 2004, Virginia Mason set out to improve its system for managing incoming calls from patients. The primary care clinics received high volumes from patients seeking everything from appointments to medical advice to prescription refills. Many of the calls came from patients requesting information they had not received in an appointment or with follow-up questions. The calls often led to phone tag between patient and the health care team, frustrating patients and consuming staff time.

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"I found the 3P event to be very engaging and informative. I really liked your measured approach at helping us to "think outside the box", while building consensus and developing actionable solutions."

– Gerard G., Shepley Bulfinch