ThedaCare's business performance system: sustaining continuous daily improvement through hospital management in a lean environment

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2011 Sep;37(9):387-99. doi: 10.1016/s1553-7250(11)37049-3.


Background: For 2003-2008, ThedaCare, a community health system in Wisconsin, achieved significant improvements in quality and the elimination of waste through the development of an improvement system, which included Value Stream analysis, rapid improvement events, and projects applied to specific processes. However, to meet its continuous daily improvement goals, particularly the goal of increasing productivity by 10% annually, ThedaCare needed to change the way its managers and leaders (in its hospital division) conduct and manage their daily work. Accordingly, it developed its Business Performance System (BPS) to achieve and sustain continuous daily improvement. BUILDING THE BPS: ThedaCare devised a multipart pilot project, consisting of "learning to see" and then, "problem solving." On completion of the 15-week alpha phase (6 units) in July 2009, the BPS was spread to the beta pilot (12 units; September 2009-January 2010) and then to cohort 3 (10 units; September 2010-January 2011).

Results: Each alpha unit improved performance on (1) the key driver metric of increasing productivity from 2008 to year-end 2009 (by 1%-11%) and (2) its respective safety/ quality drivers over the respective 2008 baselines. For 2010, improvements across the alpha, beta, and cohort 3 units were found for 11 of the 14 safety/quality drivers-85% of the 11 customer satisfaction drivers, 83% of 6 people engagement drivers; and 48% of 23 financial stewardship drivers.

Conclusions: The tools developed for the BPS have enabled teams to see, prioritize, and pursue continuous daily improvement opportunities. Unit leaders now have a structured management reporting system to reduce variation in their management styles. Leaders all now follow leadership standard work, and their daily work is now consistently aligned with the hospital and system strategy.

MeSH terms

  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Health Plan Implementation
  • Hospital Administration / methods*
  • Hospitals, Community
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Multi-Institutional Systems
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Total Quality Management / methods*
  • Wisconsin