Lean Blog Interviews — Paul O’Neill on Patient Safety

I have a very special guest for Podcast #124, he is Paul O’Neill, the U.S. Treasury Secretary from 2000 to 2001 and former CEO of Alcoa. Mr. O’Neill is sharing his thoughts on patient safety and healthcare, including his time spent as the Chair of the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative and his work with Dr. Richard Shannon in dramatically reducing hospital acquired infections to near their “theoretical limit” of zero. Dr. Shannon will be a podcast guest next month. Mr. O’Neill talks about the leadership required to have such an impact on safety and quality, drawing on lessons from his years as Alcoa’s CEO. To point others to this, use the simple URL: www.leanblog.org/124. This podcast was produced in conjunction with the Healthcare Value Network as a continuation of their previous podcast series — http://hcvln.org/podcast For earlier episodes, visit the main Podcast page at www.leanpodcast.org, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS or via Apple iTunes. If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at leanpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave a voicemail by calling the “Lean Line” at (817) 776-LEAN (817-776-5326) or contact me via Skype id “mgraban”. Please give your location and your first name. Any comments (email or voicemail) might be used in follow ups to the podcast. About Paul O’Neill: Paul O’Neill is a founder of Value Capture, LLC, where he provides counsel and support to health care executives and policymakers who share his conviction that the value of health care operations can be increased by 50% or more through the pursuit of perfect safety and clinical outcomes. He was the 72nd Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, serving from 2001 to 2002. During his 21 month tenure, the lost workday rate among Treasury employees fell by more than 50%. He was the chairman and CEO of Alcoa from 1987 to 1999 and retired as chairman at the end of 2000. Mr. O’Neill led Alcoa to become the safest workplace in the world, while increasing its market capitalization by more than 800%. Today, Alcoa operates across more than 40 countries at a lost workday rate that is 20 times lower than the average rate for American hospitals. Prior to joining Alcoa, Mr. O’Neill was president of International Paper Company from 1987 to 1985 and was vice president from 1977 to 1985. He served as the deputy director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget from 1974 to 1977, where he served on staff beginning in 1967. He worked as a computer systems analyst with the U.S. Veterans Administration from 1961 to 1966. During his government service, Mr. O’Neill helped to shape many of the policies which define the American health care system today. He serves as a board member at the National Quality Forum, RAND, and more than a dozen other major corporations and non-profit organizations.