News Center

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

St. Francis Health business expert’s book notches national accolades

INDIANAPOLIS – A book co-authored by a business process expert at Franciscan St. Francis Health has earned top praise for its promotion of operational excellence and process improvement in the health care arena.

Joseph E. Swartz, director of business transformation, and his co-author, Mark Graban, are recipients of a Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award. Their 2012 book, Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements, focuses on the principles and methods of daily continuous improvement, or “kaizen,” for health care professionals and organizations.

 Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “change for the better,” popularized mainly by international business pundit Masaaki Imai. Originating in Japan in the ashes of World War II, the kaizen philosophy is used by many health care organizations, government, banking, and a myriad of industries around the globe. Its premise is that small changes, occurring at various levels and in coordination, lead to better customer service and more efficient work.

 Healthcare Kaizen shares some of the methods used by numerous hospitals, including Franciscan St. Francis, where Swartz and others have led these efforts. Most importantly, the book covers the management mindsets and philosophies required to make Kaizen work effectively in a hospital department.

All of the examples in the book are shared by leading health care organizations, with over 200 full-color pictures and visual illustrations of Kaizen-based improvements that were initiated by chief operating officers, nurses, housekeepers, and other staff at all levels.

Franciscan St. Francis’ three hospitals adopted the kaizen approach in 2007. Tens of thousands of suggestions and changes have been implemented since that time; more than 4,000 were submitted last year alone. In those five years, kaizen has saved St. Francis’ three hospitals in excess of $4 million.

“The most important thing is that kaizen has engaged all our staff members to make improvements that are good for themselves, good for their respective departments, good for our patients and their families, good for the hospital and good for our community,” said Swartz, who had led more than 200 process improvement projects at Franciscan St. Francis.

Swartz and Graban will receive their award at the 26th International Shingo Prize Conference in Ohio.