Lean Blog Interviews — 449: Lisa Yerian, MD on the Cleveland Clinic’s Improvement Journey and How Lean Got Them Through COVID

Chief Improvement Officer at the Cleveland Clinic

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My guest for Episode #449 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast is Lisa Yerian, MD.

She joined Cleveland Clinic in anatomic pathology in 2004, and has held several pathology and enterprise leadership positions. After 10 years serving as Medical Director of Continuous Improvement, Dr. Yerian was named Cleveland Clinic’s first Chief Improvement Officer of Continuous Improvement in December 2019.

She’s going to be one of the keynote speakers at the 2022 AME Conference, being held in Dallas — Oct 17 to 20. I’ll be there and I hope you will be too.

Lisa was previously a guest here in Episode 282 back in 2017. Also joining that for that episode was our friend and her colleague, Nate Hurle.

Today, we discuss topics and questions including:

  • Remembering Nate Hurle (my blog post)
  • My last podcast with him (episode 404), Nate talked about how the CCIM and your continuous improvement work was helping with Covid testing, treatment, and vaccination… new processes.
  • As you shared recently at the Catalysis Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit, how did your Lean management system get you through Covid?
    • Daily management system
    • Tiered daily huddles
    • Problem solving systems
    • “Covid put that system to the test”
    • Adaptations were required — learned how to make changes to the standard work in hours, not weeks
    • Urgency – had to work past the old expectation that it takes 3 months to solve problems
  • The Cleveland Clinic journey
    • 2006: project-based work and some basic tools
    • 2012: deliberately focused on building culture
      • Started a “culture of improvement” A3
      • Defined current state, future state — and the gap
      • Challenge: perception that we’re already doing well enough
  • Little Red Book of Selling (a book Nate loved)
  • Culture of excellence – “Not getting better fast enough”
  • A3 problem solving
    • “Having a piece of paper is a way to de-escalate…”
  • Building on a culture of patients first
  • Lisa’s appearance with me on the Habitual Excellence podcast
  • Good enough, world class, vs. aiming for zero harm?