A lean approach to value-based care

Une approche maigre au soin valeur-basé

November 13, 2014
George Vallillee
From the November 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By George Vallillee

Value-based care is one of the hottest trends in health care these days. Organizations of every size are talking about how to make the services they provide both more affordable and effective. In the changing health care landscape, the most effective organizations with the best results will receive the highest levels of reimbursement.

As radiology transitions into a purely digital PACS environment, we’re able to deliver greatly improved quality to benefit patients and providers alike. Those improvements require substantial financial investment and tend to drive the cost of care higher. As we look to the future, improvements in quality must be accompanied with reductions in those costs.


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The new digital domain offers many opportunities to achieve those kinds of results. One is “big data.” Analysis of the ever-growing streams of information produced by these digital systems is likely to become the next big step for radiology. The question then becomes, how do we exploit data generated by multiple systems -- from the EMR to PACS – and turn it into results that are both meaningful and actionable?

We don’t have to wait for Big Data to begin achieving the goals of value-based care. Employing what we already know, coupled with effective use of Lean processes, we can achieve incremental, but substantial progress within our organizations.

As we found at Spectrum Health, there are substantial opportunities for improved care with reduced cost across the enterprise. These improvements are sometimes small, but they allow us to move closer to the goal of value-based care. It is a continuous improvement process based on the foundational structures that are suggested by value-based care models and driven by a Lean approach to change.

The core idea of Lean is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. It is a process that creates more value while using fewer resources. This process changes our thinking from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and departments to optimizing the flow of services.

Our primary goal then, becomes driving cost down while increasing value – without reducing quality. Quality is comprised of patient outcomes, safety and user experiences. At the end of the day, it’s the results that count.

There are four foundational principles in the affordable care model. They include:

• Leadership that comes from a shared vision
• Collaboration –not just within the organization, but with vendors and stake holders

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