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14 June 2013

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The number of Kaizens (not events, but small improvements) is certainly easy to to count. My "Healthcare Kaizen" co-author's health system in Indiana has tabulated and formally documented 4,000 improvements each of the last three years. Their leaders are not only supporting, encouraging, and recognizing Kaizen on an ongoing basis, they are directly participating. This includes front-line managers and the COO and CEO.

ThedaCare, a health system in Wisconsin, says the had more than 20,000 improvements in 2012. Again, there's very strong CEO leadership on Lean.

When doing lots of small Kaizens, the accumulated impact is large... and occasionally you stumble into a single small improvement that saves $300,000 or generates $3,000,000 in revenue. We recently had a KaiNexus customer implement an improvement that led to more patients getting speciality pharmacy prescriptions filled at the in-house pharmacy instead of an outside pharmacy. That led to about $700,000 in revenue for the first three months... so anticipating $3m for the year.

Not every Kaizen has that return, but if you encourage all of the small Kaizens that are meaningful in different ways, you'll also get an occasional "home run."

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