UK Trusts learning about a methodology which saves lives

04 December 2014

Virginia Mason Institute has recently provided lean healthcare training at Cerner Limited offices for four trusts. As the educational arm of Virginia Mason Institute, one of the safest healthcare providers in the world, the institute teaches organisations worldwide how to use the lean processes of the Virginia Mason Production System to improve safety, quality and the patient experience. In March, Jeremy Hunt visited Virginia Mason, in Seattle, as part of the Sign Up to Safety campaign. In the same month, Dr. Jim Bender delivered a keynote speech at the Cerner Collaboration Forum in London, describing how the tragic death of a Virginia Mason patient — caused by a preventable medical error — became the catalyst for the organisation’s tremendous change more than 10 years ago.

Virginia Mason Institute’s pilot lean training was commissioned by NHS trusts, which wanted to learn more about the use of lean to optimise healthcare processes and safety. Lean methods, originating in the Toyota Production System, remove waste from systems and workflows and have been applied to different sectors. Lean’s emphasis on processes is very pertinent and efficient in the healthcare sector, and its language is easy to understand. Attendees learned a range of topics such as the creation of a Value Stream Map, mistake proofing, how to look for waste in a process and how to apply these tools to healthcare.

Unfortunately medical errors are not uncommon in hospitals. People, processes and technology must all be aligned to deliver the appropriate patient care, especially in urgent situations, and lean tools can help improve staff training, governance and workflows. Cerner Limited has embedded lean tools and processes into its own implementations, and clients have identified areas of improvement and are taking actions to enhance the delivery of care.

The three days of lean training were a success, and feedback was excellent. All attendees said they would recommend Virginia Mason Institute’s training to their colleagues and everybody found it extremely valuable and inspiring. The training challenged people’s way of thinking and gave them practical tools and structured processes to use in their daily jobs in order to improve workflow transformation and adoption work. This event was also a great way for NHS trusts to network with their peers and Virginia Mason Institute, and a networking group will be set up for the attendees to keep in touch.

Aiden Malone, Senior Director, European Consulting for Cerner, said: “In order to accomplish safer hospitals, reduce cost and medical error, people’s work process and technology must be observed, analysed and improved. NHS trusts’ work environment needs to support and improve the care workflows to ultimately reduce medical errors. The lean methodology is doing more than just improving the processes, it is saving lives.”


About Cerner
Cerner’s health information technologies connect people, information, and systems, at approximately 14,000 facilities worldwide. Recognised for innovation, Cerner solutions assist NHS trusts and clinicians in making and documenting care decisions and enable organisations to manage the health of populations. The company provides clients with a wide range of in-house services, as well as an integrated clinical system to help organisations manage quality, outcomes and revenue.

Cerner’s mission is to contribute to the systemic improvement of health care delivery and the health of communities. Nasdaq: CERN. For more information about Cerner, please visit, check out our blog at and connect with us on Twitter at and on Facebook at
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For more information please contact: Claire Delplancq (+44) 0203 043 0773,

About Virginia Mason Institute
The mission of the Virginia Mason Institute, created in 2008 in Seattle, is to provide education and training in the Virginia Mason Production System to healthcare facilities worldwide. The institute’s goal is to transform healthcare by enabling organisations to improve quality, safety and value.