According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Dr. Gary Kaplan, CEO of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle Washington, was named one of the “50 Most Influential Physician and Executive Leaders” for the eleventh year.

One of his most notable accomplishments has been to introduce The Toyota Production System to improve the level of care at his institution. His hybrid system, which has adapted TPS for healthcare, is gaining the attention of industry leaders and hospitals across the world. He was most recently contracted to help with cost and error reductions at five major hospitals in England’s National Healthcare System.

Although it may sound at first that a car manufacturing company could not possibly offer insight into the care and nurture of people, somehow handling the myriad needs of individuals with some sort of assembly line mentality, there are many reasons why the Toyota Production System is congruent with the health care industry.

  1. It values the input of those on the front line. The Toyota Production System was one of the first to place significant value on the suggestions of those people who ‘get their hands dirty’ in the manufacturing process. And when those people are highly trained nurses and doctors, paying attentions to the suggestions they make about ways to improve efficiency and efficacy makes a great deal of sense.
  2. It shaves down top-heavy management. TPS has a streamlined version of management where individuals in leadership positions have two clear goals: Encourage their workers to identify inefficient, unnecessary or even harmful practices; and monitor and support implementation of a limited number of initiatives.
  3. Lowering the error count benefits everyone. Kaplan’s hospital saw a dramatic reduction of not only billing and coding errors, but also a decrease in prescription errors and those related directly to patient care. When errors mean a loss of quality of life for someone, each one is too many.
  4. High safety metrics lower costs in an era of unaffordable healthcare. After the value of the lives they save, hospitals work hard to keep down expenses. By reducing waste and errors, the hospitals not only save themselves money, but drive down the cost of healthcare for the public.

Learning the principles of the Toyota Production System is a huge benefit to professionals in every industry, but it can mean even more when applied to the business of giving people back their health.

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