Case Studies

It’s All About the Culture


Lean transformation means improved patient care, employee satisfaction and reduced costs as MSHA incorporates it in its organizational culture.

Mountain States Health Alliance, formed in 1998, is a large health care system in northwest Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina. The network includes 10,000 team members and associated physicians across 13 hospitals, 21 primary care centers and numerous outpatient care sites.

With health care reform on the horizon, in 2009, MSHA executives expanded their three-year strategic plan to a 10-year plan to develop strategies to offset some of the impeding costs and budget cuts of the Affordable Care Act. As part of the plan, advisors suggested Lean management as a solution.

MSHA used Lean tools in the past to help cut costs, but it was used more for problem solving. MSHA knew in order to be successful it had to take a holistic approach to implement a Lean culture across the entire organization. Andrew Wampler, assistant vice president and Candice Jennings, senior vice president, Tennessee Operations, were charged with learning from other hospitals who have implemented a Lean culture. After six months of observing other hospitals that integrated Lean culture (such as Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle and ThedaCare, Appleton, Wis.), MSHA executive’s perceptions on Lean management had changed. 

“When we first began looking into Lean, we saw it as a cost cutting tool,”  says Wampler. “After visiting the hospital sites and seeing Lean in action, we quickly learned it is much more than cost cutting and flowcharts—it is a cultural transformation across the entire health care organization that enables workers on the front lines to develop strategies to streamline processes and decrease waste. As a result, the hospitals we visited not only improved the bottom line; they made impactful changes that improve the quality of care.”

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