Considering Cost and Quality

Lena J. Weiner, November 18, 2015

Ken Lewis, MD, JD
President and CEO
Union Hospital
Elkton, MD

Ken Lewis, MD
Ken Lewis, MD

On the value of improving care: Frankly, the best way to reduce cost in the long run is to improve quality. We do this using the Lean process model; when waste is eliminated or clinical outcomes are improved, that reduces the cost of care in the long run.

I realize costs can be reduced by cuts in labor and services, and certainly we look at contract negotiations and our supply chain for savings, but we believe that broader initiatives to improve quality are actually the heart and soul of true cost-reduction efforts.

On improving process improvement: We're moving away from a top-down senior executive–driven leadership and process model to a middle management and frontline model. Many hospitals have a committee structure that sometimes overemphasizes analysis or is not anxious to move forward with changes.

At our hospital, we do rapid-cycle testing to quickly assess whether or not a proposed quality initiative will have an impact. It's also key to make good on the ideas by providing resources needed to analyze data from those workers and come up with the best methodology to achieve change. Don't just sit on the data—use it.

Lena J. Weiner

Lena J. Weiner is an associate editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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