Why has healthcare not adopted BPM (business process management)? Will it ever? -@adityapp 5/22/14

Sept. 30, 2015

Actually, different forms of business process management, depending on how broadly or narrowly one defines it, are beginning to seep into healthcare. If one includes Lean management, Six Sigma, and the Toyota Production System, then yes, healthcare has begun to adopt versions of business process management.

I’m not aware of any hospital that specifically has embraced BPM in its strictest sense; but many hospitals are embracing related concepts, including Lean, Six Sigma, and the Toyota Production System, and applying those concepts to a wide variety of clinical and non-clinical process and operations. Indeed, one hospital organization, Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, has gone so far as to create an institute to showcase the gains it has made using the Toyota Production System (TPS), and Virginia Mason’s chairman and CEO, Gary S. Kaplan, M.D., in 2011 co-authored a book with author and journalist Charles Kenney  that recounts the journey up to that time, that the organization had made in adopting TPS principles and applying them to a vast range of clinical and non-clinical processes.

So though strictly defined BPM has not yet had a significant impact on healthcare operations, its close cousins Lean, Six Sigma, and TPS definitely have, and are becoming more and more widely applied across the full spectrum of operations in patient care organizations nationwide.