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An accidental redesigner (RW Mann Lecture)

Professor David Ben-Tovim, Flinders University and Medical Centre, South Australia

Date/Time: 20th March 2014

Everywhere you look, healthcare is under strain. As populations become more affluent they live longer, and make increasing, and legitimate, demands, on health services. If we are to continue to have a decent public health service, we need to find new ways of managing the resources we have.

For the last decade David Ben-Tovim and colleagues have been exploring how, as health workers, they can best use ideas from outside healthcare to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time, and right first time.

Hospitals are not manufacturing plants. They have had to adapt the Toyota Production system, commonly known as Lean Thinking, to fit the demands of healthcare. And public healthcare in Australia is subject to the same management pressures for improved productivity as the NHS. But they have developed some methods that they think work, and that may have broader applicability.

Speaker biography

Professor David I. Ben-Tovim was born and brought up in the NHS. After attending medical school in London, he trained as a psychiatrist and clinical epidemiologist, before moving to Australia in his early thirties. For the last fifteen years he has been the Director of the Clinical Epidemiology Unit at the Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide. Ten years ago he founded the Redesigning Care Unit there to explore the use of Lean Thinking in managing some of challenges we were then facing.

Redesigning Care now uses insights from a variety of disciplines to improve the safety, quality and productivity of health services. The system acted as a catalyst for a variety of large Redesign programs in various Australian centres, and our work has been described in the peer-review literature.

The Australian health system, like many others, has been subject to frequent re-organisation. That experience has given some insights into what can be sustained in an environment of organisational turbulence.