In the news this week is a story on how production techniques from outside the health care industry can be adapted to creating change inside the hospital. I recently partnered with Toyota to look at their project to improve processes at The Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. They created an excellent film on how they used their production process and adapted it to the process of seeing patients at the hospital’s eye clinic.

Toyota Effect at Harbor-UCLA Medical CenterToyota partnered with filmmakers to create a series of these short films to document some of the most impactful projects Toyota has embarked on in recent years. Called “The Toyota Effect”, the series highlights the company’s mission to share their own Toyota Production System (TPS) for the betterment of people’s lives and organizations. In the video, Toyota helps Harbor-UCLA Medical Center eliminate a backlog of hundreds of patients waiting for optic attention by revamping their daily routine. This process is helping save the eyesight of countless patients who were waiting for months to get treatment.

In an acute problem like diabetic retinopathy, months can mean the difference between sight and blindness. By implementing the TPS, the doctors and nurses in Harbor-UCLA Medical Center eye clinic have been able to see patients more quickly. That translates to eyes and eyesight saved every day since they’ve implemented the system.

Toyota Effect Improves Eye CareThe implementation was not without its hurdles and everyone knows how entrenched the culture in a hospital can be. By focusing on the potential to improve patient outcomes through implementation of certain high-yield changes, the staff saw the benefit. Some changes worked and others didn’t, but overall, the process of adjustment and evaluation was what made the difference.

Additionally, staffing levels were maintained, without additional overtime, while seeing an extremely high volume of patients. from the clinic said, “Our clinic volume was already above and beyond our capacity with our old operational flow. Now our clinical activity better matches our workforce capacity.” The best part to me is that this wasn’t a one-time fix for the clinic. By teaching production techniques instead of simply recommending changes, all members of the clinic staff were engaged to identify potential areas of inefficiency.

That focus on continuous improvement is still going on now, even after the Toyota team left. Like the old adage says, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The Harbor-UCLA Medical Center changes have enabled the team there to improve eyesight in the community for years to come because of the Toyota Production System. I urge you to check out the video for yourself. It might inspire you to look at ways to improve and implement changes in your facility.


This segment was created in partnership with Toyota. All opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of Toyota.

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