Steps Toward Improvement with Kevin DeHority
August 24, 2021
by Cj Pettus
Lean Healthcare instructor Kevin DeHority recently shared his thoughts about the value of Lean thinking and its application in the healthcare setting.
HOW WERE YOU INTRODUCED TO LEAN METHODOLOGY?
Kevin: Before I came to U-M, I spent 10 years at Ford Motor Company, and 8 of the 10 years were in our Lean Manufacturing group. We would work with suppliers helping them bring these principles, systems, and tools into their daily operations as we had a similar group called the Ford Production System within our own four walls. Honestly, it was a class just like this class that I took, my first year at Ford, that I just fell in love with the concepts. Everything clicked. I was just right in line with everything I was learning. I knew it was different from what I was experiencing in different ways, and it just made all too much sense in my mind.
HOW HAVE LEAN PRINCIPLES AND STRATEGIES IMPACTED YOUR CAREER?
Kevin: How lucky am I? I get paid for helping people improve, and now I have a framework on how to do that. I think Lean thinking is a healthy balance between being very transparent about the problems but equally as hopeful about what we can do about it and keeping peoples’ energy and excitement up about how you can continuously make steps toward improvement.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO TEACH LEAN HEALTHCARE?
Kevin: I’m very passionate about the material and believe very strongly in its powerful effect, honestly. I’ve seen so many people take the concepts and apply them in small ways and get really great results. It’s easy to find passion for something that you see make a difference for so many different people.
WHAT AREAS OF SPECIALTY DO YOU TEACH IN THE COURSE?
Kevin: Brendon Weil and I have been teaching the Value Stream Management/Mapping portion of the course. We bring a lot of experience with that strategy, or system, for lack of a better way to frame it.
The cool thing about the instructors of this course is that we can teach any of the concepts so that makes it really nice and easy to connect the dots across the different days and how things relate and fit together. Toni Benner could teach our section. We could teach Toni’s section. Jack Billi could teach any of it. We’re very interchangeable.
IF SOMEONE WERE TO ASK YOU WHY THEY SHOULD TAKE THE LEAN HEALTHCARE COURSE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
Kevin: I still think it’s the only way, in terms of my experience, where you can improve outcomes, reduce frustrations, and improve engagement from your team. So the patient wins, the employees win, and the margin wins. And it’s still the only way that I know how to do all 3 of those things together over time.
People are very intimidated by it, but it’s really just a very simple, straight-forward, structured way to approach a problem that has tons of benefits if you are able to build that into your discipline of how you go about solving problems.
WHAT FEEDBACK DO YOU HEAR FROM PARTICIPANTS ABOUT LEAN HEALTHCARE?
Kevin: We can produce plenty of evidence of people coming back to say that this is the best course that they’ve ever taken and that it changed their perspective on how to approach work, how to approach improvement.
Obviously, we’re a little biased, but we definitely get that feedback on a regular basis. If you look at what alumni have gone on to do, they are in such awesome, influential areas.
HAVE YOU MADE ANY CHANGES TO THE COURSE SINCE THE LAST TIME IT RAN?
Kevin: One thing we’ve tangibly done is we’ve built more time and space for answering questions and actually getting people to talk about their own experiences. Kind of meeting people where they are. If they have some questions where they’re struggling or they have some concern, we can open it up to the class and there’s always a wealth of knowledge and experience from all the different participants. Chances are that Brendon and I have probably run into that issue over the years.
We don’t have magic dust that you can just sprinkle on stuff, but we have experience, and we’ve learned a lot in terms of what is maybe a little more of an effective strategy than another. The content is pretty consistent in terms of tried and true. The group should walk away with a good game plan for how to at least get started for their areas.