Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements

Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements

by Mark Graban, Joseph E. Swartz

Healthcare Kaizen focuses on the principles and methods of daily continuous improvement, or Kaizen, for healthcare professionals and organizations. Kaizen is a Japanese word that means "change for the better," as popularized by Masaaki Imai in his 1986 book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success and through the books of Norman Bodek,

See more details below


Healthcare Kaizen focuses on the principles and methods of daily continuous improvement, or Kaizen, for healthcare professionals and organizations. Kaizen is a Japanese word that means "change for the better," as popularized by Masaaki Imai in his 1986 book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success and through the books of Norman Bodek, both of whom contributed introductory material for this book.

Winner of a 2013 Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award!

In 1989, Dr. Donald M. Berwick, founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, endorsed the principles of Kaizen in the New England Journal of Medicine, describing it as "the continuous search for opportunities for all processes to get better." This book shows how to make this goal a reality.

Healthcare Kaizen shares some of the methods used by numerous hospitals around the world, including Franciscan St. Francis Health, where co-author Joe Swartz has led these efforts. Most importantly, the book covers the management mindsets and philosophies required to make Kaizen work effectively in a hospital department or as an organization-wide program.

All of the examples in the book were shared by leading healthcare organizations, with over 200 full-color pictures and visual illustrations of Kaizen-based improvements that were initiated by nurses, physicians, housekeepers, senior executives and other staff members at all levels.

Healthcare Kaizen will be helpful for organizations that have embraced weeklong improvement events, but now want to follow the lead of ThedaCare, Virginia Mason Medical Center, and others who have moved beyond just doing events into a more complete management system based on Lean or the Toyota Production System.

It’s often said, without much reflection, that people hate change. The experiences shared in this book prove that people actually love change when they are fully engaged in the process, get to make improvements that improve patient care and make their day less frustrating, and when they don’t fear being laid off as a result of their improvements.

Mark Graban explains why his new book Healthcare Kaizen is a great resource for healthcare organizations looking to make improvements on the frontlines.(

Check out a recent entry about this book on the Virginia Mason Medical Center Blog, Could this new book help drive your Lean journey? (

Check out what the experts at the Franciscan St. Francis Health System have to say about Healthcare Kaizen. (

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Mark Graban is one of the most respected voices in the Lean world. He is the founder and driving force behind Lean Blog, ( a vibrant site he continuously updates with compelling information and analysis about lean in health care. Mark’s new book, Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements (co-authored with Joseph E. Swartz), is a must read for anyone on a Lean journey. At Virginia Mason, the concept of kaizen, which Mark and Joe write about so well in the new book, is ingrained in the organization’s cultural DNA. … The real goal of Lean in health care, they write, is cultural transformation. This is an essential insight. At Virginia Mason, the work of adapting the Toyota Production System to health care in the form of the Virginia Mason Production System has cultural transformation at its core. This sort of change is anything but easy. Culture, as the saying goes, tends to eat strategy for lunch. But cultural change is transformative.. … Mark and Joe understand the patience required to do this work well. They recognize the power of the sort of continuous incremental improvement at the heart of the Toyota Production System. … The book is highly detailed and includes helpful discussion questions at the end of each chapter.
Virginia Mason Medical Center Blog, Could this new book help drive your Lean journey?
Read the full review at:

I hope you will discover, as we have, the incredible creativity that can be derived by engaging and supporting each and every employee in improvements that they themselves lead.
—Robert (Bob) J. Brody, CEO, Franciscan St. Francis Health

Front line staff must know, understand, embrace and drive Kaizen and its tools to achieve incremental and continuous improvements. This book will help health care organizations around the world begin and advance their journey.
—Gary Kaplan, MD, FACP, FACMPE, FACPE, Chairman and CEO, Virginia Mason Medical Center, and Chairman of the Board, Institute for Healthcare Improvement

Healthcare leaders need to read this book to understand that their management role must radically change to one of supporting daily kaizen if quality safety and cost are to improve in healthcare.
—John Toussaint, MD, CEO, ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value

The healthcare industry is in the midst of truly fundamental change, and those organizations that engage their front line staff … will be well positioned to thrive in a post-reform environment.
—Brett D. Lee, PhD, FACHE, Senior Vice President, Health System Operations, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

Healthcare Kaizen
is a practical guide for healthcare leaders aspiring to engage frontline staff in true continuous improvement. Graban and Swartz skillfully illustrate how to foster and support daily continuous improvement in health care settings.
—John E. Billi, MD, Associate Vice President for Medical Affairs, University of Michigan

I hope everyone reads this book and recommits to the fundamentals of Lean, particularly the involvement of frontline staff in process redesign.
—Fred Slunecka, Chief Operating Officer, Avera Health

Kaizen has marvelously engaged so many of our staff and enabled them to improve the world around them to the benefit of staff, patients and community.
—Paul Strange, MD, Corporate VP of Quality, Franciscan Alliance

Mark Graban and Joseph Swartz present a clear pathway for successful Lean practice in Healthcare Kaizen. This should be on every healthcare systems reading list.
—David Munch, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, Healthcare Performance Partners

Mark and Joe provide real-life examples of how those who do the work provide ideas for small changes that add up to BIG results. Healthcare Kaizen is a must for leaders whose focus is the patient and how to effectively and efficiently deliver quality and safety with improved outcomes.
—Betty Brown, MBA MSN RN CPHQ FNAHQ, President, National Association for Healthcare Quality

Using examples from Franciscan Health and other forward-thinking medical groups, the book contains valuable strategies for organization-wide cultural transformation to create an more efficient, patient-centered healthcare system dedicated to continuous quality improvement.
Donald W. Fisher, Ph.D., President and CEO, American Medical Group Association

This inspirational book is packed with examples and is informed by the authors’ years of experience on the ‘front-lines’ themselves, helping leading healthcare organizations around the world to build successful kaizen programs.
—Alan G. Robinson, PhD, Professor, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts; and Author of Ideas Are Free: How the Idea Revolution Is Liberating People and Transforming Organizations

At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, everybody improving every day is a critical aspect of our Lean and quality improvement efforts. Healthcare Kaizen, is full of relatable examples as well as practical ideas that will inspire staff, clinicians and leaders at all levels.
—Alice Lee, Vice President, Business Transformation, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

In Healthcare Kaizen, Mark and Joe remind us of the great power of daily problem solving. The story of Franciscan St. Francis Health is compelling, where leaders created the opportunity for great people at the frontline making great improvements for patient care.
—Michel Tétreault, MD, President and CEO, Bruce Roe, MD, Chief Medical Officer, St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg, Canada

I have learned that respect for the people who work for you is key to any transformation. Mark Graban and Joseph Swartz do a great job of capturing this truth in their book… This book is a long needed addition to my growing lean healthcare library.
—Patrick Anderson, Executive Director, Chugachmiut, Anchorage, Alaska

The vision of a world in which our healthcare institutions operate with a universal discipline of relentless, patient-centered improvement remains a vitally important yet distant dream. In Healthcare Kaizen, Mark Graban and Joseph Swartz illustrate just how to make that dream a reality.
—Matthew E. May, Author of The Elegant Solution and The Laws of Subtraction

The philosophy, tools and techniques discussed in the book work, and work well, in any environment. We in healthcare must improve – we owe it to our patients and communities – and Mark and Joe are helping to show us the way.
—Dean Bliss, Lean Improvement Advisor, Iowa Healthcare Collaborative

What Mark Graban and Joseph Swartz have done in Healthcare Kaizen is to bring hope and light to a part of our society that is facing increasing challenges. Healthcare Kaizen will be a reference on the subject for many years to come.
—Jon Miller, CEO, Kaizen Institute

Hopefully this book will become a blueprint for healthcare organizations everywhere that truly want to be great!
—Jeffrey Liker, Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering, University of Michigan; and Shingo Prize-Winning Author of The Toyota Way

Fixing health care may be our generation’s great test. We’ll need to engage all the good people who currently work in broken systems. Mark and Joe have helped to show us how.
—Pascal Dennis, Lean Pathways, Inc., Author, The Remedy and Andy & Me

Graban and Swartz present the kaizen philosophy in the most accessible way I’ve seen yet. THIS is the missing link in healthcare reform.
—Karen Martin, Author of The Outstanding Organization and The Kaizen Event Planner

In this new book, Graban and Swartz offer a new and innovative approach towards improving the healthcare delivery system. Unlike previous attempts by too many others, the book introduces the reader to the concept of “Kaizen”, often described as the source of Toyota’s transformation into an auto giant, acclaimed worldwide for its quality and service. The timing for the publication could not be better. … Focusing on ‘Kaizen Theory’, the book is illustratively rich in theory and applications. … The reader is introduced to concepts, tools, and exercises that foster creativity and innovation. Graban and Swartz present vivid examples to illustrate visibility, participation and accountability. … Every reader will find great value in this publication. In closing, we look forward to their next book … .

—Miguel Burbano and Whitney Churchill, writing on

Read More

Product Details

Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >