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England Selects Seattle’s Virginia Mason Institute to Improve Patient Safety, Control Health Care Costs

Virginia Mason Institute announced today it has been selected by England’s National Health Service Trust Development Authority (NHS) to implement Virginia Mason’s management system as part of a broad effort to improve safety and quality, and control costs at NHS hospitals.

Virgi(nia Mason Institute team members will train and mentor health care professionals at five NHS acute-care hospital trusts to use the Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS). This is the innovative management methodology Virginia Mason developed and has used to measurably improve care quality and patient safety while earning acclaim as one of the safest hospitals in the U.S.

“We are honored to partner with the National Health Service and to share what we have learned about transforming health care and putting patients’ interests first and foremost,” said Virginia Mason Health System Chairman and CEO Gary S. Kaplan, MD, “Patient safety is our No. 1 priority.”

The contract awarded Virginia Mason Institute is for five years and approximately $13 million.

“The achievements at Virginia Mason over the past decade are truly inspirational and I’m delighted they will now help the NHS empower staff to replicate the ground-breaking work that made their hospital one of the safest in the world,” said Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health in England.

VMPS, developed by Virginia Mason in 2002 and inspired by Toyota Production System’s lean principles, engages executives, physicians, nurses and other team members at all levels of the organization to improve safety and quality, and control costs. It provides structured, standardized tools and methods for achieving operational efficiencies, eliminating waste (i.e., anything that does not add value from the patient’s perspective), preventing mistakes and sustaining momentum for continuous improvement.

The Patient Safety Alert system, for example, is a cornerstone of Virginia Mason’s culture of safety. Each of the organization’s approximately 6,000 employees, regardless of their job or title, is a safety inspector and authorized to file an alert anytime he or she suspects a potential hazard. An alert notifies a patient safety specialist and the senior executive responsible for the area or process affected by the alert. An investigation is launched to address the problem as quickly as possible.

Virginia Mason is consistently recognized as one of the best and safest hospitals in the nation in independent evaluations of Medicare and other data by organizations, including The Leapfrog Group, a coalition of employers advocating for increased transparency, safety and quality in health care, and Healthgrades, a national online public resource for information about hospitals and physicians.

Meanwhile, Virginia Mason is the lowest-priced hospital by admission type in the Seattle market, according to the Washington State Health Alliance Report on hospital sticker price variation. “We are proving that the pathway to the highest quality and safest care is the same pathway to lower cost,” Dr. Kaplan said.

Virginia Mason Institute, the education arm of Virginia Mason Health System, was created in 2008 in response to the growing demand for information about VMPS. Since then, more than 5,000 people (most representing health care) from 20 countries have attended VMPS seminars offered by the institute.

“Through focused education, training, and executive and operational coaching, our approach to transformation prepares organizations to deliver safe, high-quality care efficiently and effectively by creating a culture characterized by innovation and motivation,” said Diane Miller, executive director, Virginia Mason Institute. “This enables organizations to solve problems and challenges they face today and are likely to face in the future.”