Fisher, Cardinal Health collaboration driving results

A new healthcare-efficiency collaboration between The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business and Cardinal Health Inc. is driving results for participating hospitals just months into its launch.

The Academy for Excellence in Healthcare recently released two “white paper” reports from hospital systems that have participated in the program, which started early this year and offers a “boot camp” of sorts for cross-functional teams at hospitals nationwide seeking to implement operational excellence principles. The reports show major improvements under way for Zanesville, Ohio-based Genesis Healthcare System and the Harvard University-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center as a result of the program, now heading into its fourth cohort.

healthcare academy
The Academy for Excellence in Healthcare is gearing up for its fourth cohort of students.

Building off of Fisher’s reputation as a key thought leader in operational excellence and COE member Cardinal Health’s remarkable track record as a lean organization, the Academy helps organizations identify and solve their greatest operating challenges, ultimately driving results that can significantly reduce costs and improve patient outcomes.

It’s a major challenge for an industry undergoing historic change, but one many hospitals already have committed to tackling through the Academy. Here’s a look at the two projects highlighted recently:

A new patient model

A cross-functional team from Beth Israel attended the Academy in the spring in an attempt to solve a problem that plagues many hospitals: Disconnected round schedules between doctors and nurses that resulted in redundant work and, worst of all, repetitive and even conflicting information for patients and their families.

When the team at Beth Israel committed to driving a more patient-centered model for physician and nurse rounds, they found doctors and nurses in a 24-bed general medicine unit were together in a patient room less than 1 percent of the time, while the in-room whiteboards – a crucial element of visual management for the hospital and patient families – seldom were updated.

Working with faculty at Fisher and leaders from Cardinal Health, the Beth Israel team devised what they called a Team-Patient Model that emphasized a standardized rounding routine that brought physicians and nurses together more and resulted in regular whiteboard updates. Coaches in the Academy wisely helped the team tackle a small piece of the problem and then scale it, applying the new model first to one patient and then spreading it to all of a single resident’s patients.

By the late summer, following Beth Israel’s experience in the one-week Academy program, the model was rolled out to all patients in the GM unit, with time spent on rounds dropping by 15 percent but physician/nurse “face time” with patients increasing a remarkable 55 percent.

Download the white paper here.

A pharmacy inventory conundrum

In contrast to Beth Israel’s patient-care challenge, it was a behind-the-scenes one that brought a team from Zanesville-based Genesis Healthcare System to the Academy. The two-hospital system found itself readying to merge into a single, renovated facility with a conundrum on its hands: How can the two separate pharmacies be combined into one and become more efficient in the process?

At the outset, the data didn’t speak to an optimized inventory management process: The Genesis team calculated that inventory levels had increased while patient volume itself had gone down. This created an on-hand inventory level of more than 3,000 drugs worth about $1.6 million, heading out to the two hospitals and other ancillary facilities.

Coaches and faculty from Fisher and Cardinal through the Academy once again helped the team tackle the problem by drilling down and seeking efficiencies that later could be scaled. The team found, notably, that only about two-dozen of those 3,000 drugs accounted for about half of its inventory, creating a perfect, small target for optimization.

Working with tools sharpened at the Academy, the Genesis team value-stream mapped the pharmacy inventory flow process and devised a “kanban” system for each of the drugs, specifying minimum and maximum inventory levels that better tied ordering methods to current – rather than past – activity.

The Genesis team, according to the report, is aggressively rolling out the kanban system to other drugs and by the fall had realized nearly $350,000 in savings for that $1.6 million inventory haul.

Download the white paper here.

Learn more

Interested in bringing your team to the Academy or know of someone who is? Head to for more details on the program and application information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *