Performance Improvement (Lean)

A  North American Leader in Applying Lean to Healthcare

In 2010 St. Mary’s Board of Trustees endorsed a bold new vision for St. Mary’s to be the safest and most effective hospital in Canada, characterized by innovation, compassion and respect. The hospital’s Senior Leadership Team set out to embed Lean thinking across the organization in order to improve quality and safety for patients and staff.

Effective use of Lean requires staff to develop a mindset that incremental improvements across the organization result in significant positive experiences and outcomes for our patients and families. Staff are encouraged to identify problems, propose and try new solutions, and measure whether the new way is better and sustainable.

As a measure of its success as Canada’s safest hospital, St. Mary’s uses the internationally-recognized Hospital Standardized Mortality Ratio (HSMR) which tracks actual deaths versus expected deaths in a fiscal year (a lower score is better). In 2012 and 2016 St. Mary’s had had the lowest HSMR scores in Canada, affirming its safest hospital status.

Other recent achievements at St. Mary’s include:

  • Mortality rates of less than half the national average for cardiac surgery, according to a 2017 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information
  • Reductions in staff blood and body fluid injuries (35%), patient falls (50%) and hospital acquired infections (68%)
  • Superior staff engagement scores in a 2017 staff engagement survey. The percentage of staff who would recommend St. Mary’s as a great place to work is significantly higher than the Canadian average.
  • More than 7,500 staff- led improvements between April 1 2015, to March 31, 2018.

Support from St. Mary’s Board of Trustees and senior leaders, has helped St. Mary’s create a problem-solving culture and become a North American leader in using Lean to drive healthcare transformation. Healthcare and corporate organizations from all over the world now visit St. Mary’s on site visits.

Watch a video featuring Dr. John Toussaint, one of the foremost authorities on Lean in healthcare, talking about St. Mary’s success.

Click here to learn more about Catalysis Healthcare Value Network.

St. Mary’s in the News – Learn more about St. Mary’s Journey.

A culture shift from top-down solutions, to employee generated solutions takes time. Staff need coaching and training to build their capabilities and a Lean Management System to guide them. St. Mary’s success is a testament to it employees, and the persistence of leadership in coaching employees to develop a culture of problem solvers.

Click on the links below for a few of the publications that have featured St. Mary’s success.

Harvard Business Review – May 2019
Becker’s Hospital Review – July 2018
Healthcare Executive Magazine July/August 2018
Healthcare Financial Management Association – May, 2018
Association of Manufacturing Excellence, Target Magazine – May 2018
St. Mary’s part of UC Berkley Lean Research Healthcare Collaborative – December 2017
Planet Lean Global Network Journal – May 2017
Canadian Government Executive – February 2017, p.8