Healthy and Lean

A regional healthcare delivery system performs like a Lean enterprise.

Cleveland's University Hospitals Health System (UHHS) is ambitious and profitable with a billion-dollar plan to expand over a five-year period. UHHS gives credit for its positive turnaround to its leaders, who are running the major health system like a competitive enterprise.

 

According to UHHS' Vice President of Transformational Strategies Liz Novak, a key decision was to select Oracle as the strategic partner for corporatewide business systems. UHHS also decided to standardize on Oracle E-Business Suite running on the Solaris Operating System. Another strategic move was to consolidate the UHHS IT staff and to outsource IT operations. The benefit of this move is that the 170-member IT staff is now managed and paid by a firm whose expertise is in IT service rather than healthcare.

Read how UHHS continues its successful results with its recent introduction of Oracle Employee Self Service, as well as plans to improve its business processes by integrating an Electronic Health Record with its Oracle infrastructure.

Managing a major healthcare system can feel less like running an enterprise than governing a bunch of independent states. That's what the new leadership found when it took over Cleveland, Ohio's money-losing University Hospitals Health System (UHHS) in 2002. UHHS spent the next three years shuttering outdated facilities, shedding unprofitable lines of business, and standardizing business processes across the entire organization. Today, UHHS is profitable and ambitious, with a US$1 billion expansion planned over the next five years.

"When we started the turnaround process in 2002, we asked ourselves, 'What if we run this institution like a competitive enterprise?'" says Liz Novak, UHHS' Vice President of Transformational Strategies, who reports directly to the CIO. "We wanted to take the fact that we were in the healthcare business out of the equation and implement industry-agnostic best practices whenever feasible."

That was easier said than done. UHHS is northeast Ohio's largest network of physicians' offices, outpatient centers, and hospitals. The system employs more than 14,500 people—from parking attendants to heart surgeons—and has been developing business processes piecemeal throughout its 140-year history. "Our hospitals had disparate business systems, process inefficiencies, data integrity issues, and redundant resources," says Novak. "We employed nearly 300 IT specialists across the organization, and yet most of our processes were paper-based."

 

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