Medical Centers Take Tips from Other Industries


Curriculums using Lean quality-improvement (QI) principles and techniques are becoming entrenched in medical teaching programs across the country.

A curriculum based on Lean QI is teaching medical residents at Boston Medical Center techniques based on successes in manufacturing and service industries, according to Charlene Weigel, MD, who now works as a hospitalist at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass. Residents also are learning about implementation of Lean principles at the medical center, Dr. Weigel and co-authors report in a study published in the American Journal of Medical Quality.1

“In Week One, we gave an introduction to QI and explained what Lean means,” Dr. Weigel says. Three other interactive sessions explored such techniques as how to create process maps and root-cause analysis, and identifying steps that aren’t helpful. The 90 residents and eight Boston University School of Public Health students also created 17 group QI project plans. “The goal was for the QI classwork and ideas to become implemented in hospital QI projects, but logistically, we had to scale back expectations for that initial go-round,” Dr. Weigel says.

The 90 residents and eight Boston Univ. School of Public Health students also created 17 group QI project plans. One group submitted as an IHI storyboard at a national meeting.

The medical center recently started a second cycle of the QI course, with students from the first cycle encouraged to continue their QI projects on their own. One group submitted its project as an Institute for Healthcare Improvement storyboard at a national meeting.

“The experience also exposed the residents to our interprofessional team structure, which reflects their future working relationships and professional roles in QI,” Dr. Weigel says.

Lean concepts also are the basis for the Perfecting Patient Care University (PPCU, www.prhi.org/perfecting-patient-care/what-is-ppc), a QI training program for health-care leaders and clinicians offered in a variety of formats by the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, a regional health collaborative. An evaluation of outcomes at PPCU was published online in the American Journal of Medical Quality in April.2 The same journal also describes the curriculum, program evaluation, and lessons learned by SHM’s Quality and Safety Educators Academy (http://sites.hospitalmedicine.org/qsea), which provides training in QI and patient safety for teaching faculty.3 The academy, a 2.5-day course, is co-sponsored by the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine.

Larry Beresford is a freelance writer in San Francisco


  1. Weigel C, Suen W, Gupta G. Using Lean methodology to teach quality improvement to internal medicine residents at a safety net hospital. Am J Med Qual. 2013 Feb 4 [Epub ahead of print].
  2. Morganti KG, Lovejoy S, Beckjord EB, Haviland AM, Haas AC, Farley DO. A retrospective evaluation of the Perfecting Patient Care University training program for health care organizations. Am J Med Qual. 2013 Apr 9 [Epub ahead of print].
  3. Myers JS, Tess A, Glasheen JJ, et al. The Quality and Safety Educators’ Academy: fulfilling an unmet need for faculty development. Am J Med Qual. 2013 Apr 11 [Epub ahead of print].
  4. Dong XQ, Simon MA. Elder abuse as a risk factor for hospitalization in older persons. JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Apr 8:1-7. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.238 [Epub ahead of print].
  5. Cisco mConcierge. 90% American workers use their own smartphones for work. Cisco mConcierge website. Available at: http://www.ciscomcon.com/sw/swchannel/registration/internet/registrationcfm?SWAPPID=91&RegPageID=350200&SWTHEMEID=12949. Accessed

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