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Written by:
Muireann Leonard
December 22, 2017

On 15 December 2017, the Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) hosted their first international Lean Summit, Adopting Lean for Healthcare Transformation, at Farmleigh House in Dublin. 

The year-end summit enabled IEHG to share their collective Lean transformation vision for the Group, as well as the stories to date from staff and patients who have engaged with Lean process improvement methodology in various IEHG hospitals.

The summit was also an opportunity to hear from international partners who have supported IEHG on this journey to date and who are also on a similar journey using Lean to transform their services.These included Elaine Mead, CEO of NHS Highland, Alicia Schulhof, Senior Vice President of the Transformation Office at Indiana University Health (IUH), and Dr. Byron Scott MD, Deputy Chief Health Officer, Simpler Consulting, IBM Watson Health and also Board Member for the American Association for Physician Leadership.

Over 100 delegates from across the Group’s 11 hospitals engaged in the day-long informative sessions.  

The event opened with remarks via video by Minister for Health, Simon Harris, TD.  The Minister said that it was “really important that we take the Lean principles and apply them right across the delivery of our health services” and recognised the leadership shown by IEHG CEO Mary Day in this regard.

Professor Day has spearheaded the introduction of a Lean strategy as the IEHG primary process improvement methodology and working with staff the Group has committed to delivering Lean Service Improvement across the Group’s hospitals.  

The success of this journey to date has seen Rapid Improvement Events (RIEs) held at many of our hospitals, engaging more than 1000 staff to work together to positively impact patient and hospitals, specifically in relation to delayed discharges and better pathways for our frail and elderly patients.

In 2017, IEHG commenced implementation of its Lean healthcare transformation initiative and has been working hard to centre its efforts on promoting alignment with key partners, increasing the focus on patients and staff, delivering better clinical outcomes and improving employee commitment.

The vision of the IEHG transformation plan of care aligns with that of the future of healthcare Sláintecare Report in which “patient needs come first in driving safety, quality and the coordination of care.”

The programme objectives are to standardise the delivery of healthcare across the group and ensure that every patient treated receives the right care, in the right place at the right time, every time.

1.       Improve patient and staff experience and patient outcomes

2.       Enhance capability of our hospitals to deliver operational excellence

3.       Develop and enhance continuous improvement capabilities

4.       Optimise patient flow and resource utilisation

Our Service Improvement Team, which is led by Anne-Marie Keown, has worked diligently all year in driving an improvement programme across our Group, especially within the area of unscheduled care. The team comprises of IEHG staff who have considerable expertise in management and leadership for change as well as being certified Lean healthcare practitioners. They have brought with them a collective experience of working at national and regional levels in delivering change and improvement.

Professor Day said, “The development of a healthcare system that is sustainable and capable of delivering consistently high-quality services is fundamental to improving quality, safe, patient-centred care to the people of Ireland.  This strategy commits to using Lean to foster a performance-based culture, aligning business structure, team member engagement, organisational processes and incentives to ensure that the we are well positioned in the fast-changing health environment.” 

Elaine Mead of NHS Highland discussed transforming health delivery in the Scottish Highlands and said, “It was a great privilege to join colleagues from around the world with a shared passion for quality improvement and transforming health care. We are all striving to improve outcomes for patient while at the same time having to change the way we deliver services. The benefits of a  summit like this is that it gives us some time out to share and learn from each other."

Alicia Schulhof of Indiana University Health (IUH) talked about IUH’s transformation journey so far and the importance of engagement commitment, deep personal learning and a willingness to change leadership style.

Dr. Byron Scott MD of IBM Watson Health focused on Quality, Performance Improvement and Physician Leadership. He said, "All Physicians are leaders. Given all the complexities in healthcare including an aging population and an increased comorbidity of patients, physicians will need to lead the navigation of healthcare."