How One Woman Saved IU Health $54 Million

Philip Betbeze, January 19, 2017

The biggest opportunities to make headway on performance indicators were most often found in the perioperative or emergency departments.

One project began in 2013 in the digestive and liver disease clinic, involving extremely sick patients, some with end-stage renal failure. The problem: a patient cycle time of almost 210 minutes.

"I'm almost embarrassed to say that when we walked in, they were ordering additional office furniture because we were at capacity," says Schulhof. "These patients were spending some of the little precious time they had left on this earth just waiting. Talk about waste."

Since then, cycle time has been cut in half, while patient-doctor time stayed constant, and, in some cases, increased.

Each IU Health region tracks its Lean projects using about 15 metrics that are the same across the system, and are based on quality, people (employees), service (patients), finance, and growth. On Schulhof's dashboard and those of people who are managing the projects locally, those metrics for each project appear either red or green based on progress against goals.

While many companies use industrial engineers, such as those with IU Health's partner Simpler, as project managers at IU Health, those engineers are ordered not to solve problems themselves, but to instead act as coaches.

"That's how we can save $54 million," says Schulhof. "If you add in efficiency, we're over $130 million now."

View the HealthLeaders Media webcast, Maximizing Patient and Family Advisory Councils to Improve HCAHPS, live on February 14 and learn how one organization successfully created and upholds a highly effective advisory council.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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