Comarow on Quality has a post titled “What Medicine Can Learn from Business.” Waiting rooms (in which patients incur long waits) have long been a part of what we do. But new perspecitives bring new insight. Mr. Comarow shares a story of Virginia Mason’s implementation of the Toyota Production System:
During the visit, a team led by Virginia Mason’s chief of medicine met with a Toyota guru, a sensei who had absorbed the Toyota approach into his very marrow. Examining a layout of the hospital, the sensei learned that there were waiting rooms scattered across the campus.
“Who waits there?” the sensei asked.
“Patients,” said the chief of medicine.
“What are they waiting for?”
The sensei was told there might be a hundred or so such waiting rooms and that patients wait about 45 minutes on average.
“You have a hundred waiting areas where patients wait an average of 45 minutes for a doctor?” He paused and let the question hang in the air. “Aren’t you ashamed?”