Comprehensive Healthcare for The U.S.: An Idealized Model

William F. Roth, Productivity Press, 2010, 174 pp., $49.95 (book).

This book provides a concise overview of the U.S. healthcare system and compares it with selected countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Norway, France and Germany.

Roth discusses relevant portions of the system, inefficiencies and costs such as lack of preventive care, varying criteria for qualification for treatment, cost of drugs, malpractice insurance, the shortage of healthcare professionals and an inadequate educational system for increasing the supply of workers.

He explains the misdirection of the U.S. system in emphasizing patient care for maladies while deemphasizing preventive measures and the economies derived from such a system. Roth also says the object of healthcare reform is containing and reducing burgeoning costs.

He explains improving the efficiency of operating these systems and enhancing the of transfer of information. He also examines private and government programs.

Roth describes government programs, along with their shortcomings. He also describes the advantages of administrative efficiencies in the application of government programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Veterans Administration. In this analysis, however, government programs fare better than private in cost and efficiency of administration.

This is a valuable book that describes the problem and proposes positive steps to reduce costs and improve efficiency. One of the salient aspects of these systems is reducing malpractice through exchange of information, with the corollary effect of reducing the costs of malpractice insurance.

Roth has effectively provided a jumping-off point for further analysis and a plethora of information to seed investigations into foreign systems.

William F. Foster
Vienna, VA

The Optimization Edge: Reinventing Decision Making To Maximize All of Your Company’s Assets

Steve Sashihara, McGraw-Hill, 2011, 288 pp., $35 (book).

Decision-making executives, at all levels, will benefit from this book. Sashihara examines decision making that builds on assets—quality being among them—and gives organizations an edge. Though details of quality and quality methods are not emphasized in the book, the ideas offered seem to be important for quality specialists to know and understand.

Organized into three parts, the book explores the competitive advantages derived through an optimized organization and strategies for putting an optimization plan to work within a company, and then forecasts the future in which today’s organizations will exist. The look into the alternative futures will deliver insights to decision makers as they plan and prepare for the future.

One of the values of this book is the introduction of management philosophies that lead to organizational optimization. Readers will understand optimization as a management strategy, values of optimization, conditions allowing optimization to occur and insights into the powers of optimization. These tools may keep an organization in leadership positions ahead of competitors.

This book is recommended for leaders within organizations working to carry forward optimization initiatives. Readers of the book may develop new insights about successful organizations and opportunities for building an ever-better future.

Jerry Brong
Ellensburg, WA

Lean Six Sigma for Hospitals: Strategic Steps to Fast, Affordable, Flawless Healthcare

Jay Arthur, McGraw-Hill, 2011, 368 pp., $40 (book).

This how-to book combines healthcare examples with medicinal process improvement prescriptions. Arthur provides good examples in the heathcare field and practical guidelines for lean Six Sigma in a crisp and engaging style.

Focused case studies usually provide a somewhat biased view, minimizing the organizational and technological challenges that provide a wider context to the specific examples. W. Edward Deming explained that a major restructuring of processes and organizations requires a theory of profound knowledge. Healthcare systems are particularly challenging because they need to integrate clinical practice with nursing and administrative processes, and general technology.

Somehow, the author makes things look too easy and, in that sense, might be misleading. The ample use of quotations contribute to this. Fewer quotations, a more structured organization and references to other existing solutions as alternatives to QI Macros (an MS Excel add-on sold by the author) would have positioned the book as an excellent reference and text supporting Six Sigma training and process improvement implementations.

In spite of these comments, I would recommend the book to Black Belts or healthcare practitioners who are interested in applying quality principles and lean Six Sigma tools and methods.

Ron S. Kenett
KPA Ltd.
Raanana, Israel

Toyota Kata: Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness And Superior Results

Mike Rother, McGraw-Hill, 2009, 306 pp., $29.95 (book).

Many people have studied and written about Toyota’s successful management thinking and practice. Despite that, no organization outside Toyota’s family of companies has ever come close to matching Toyota’s performance. The secret is that Toyota truly manages by means and not by results.

This book does not include a list of lean concepts or business principles. It shows how to develop continuous improvement in any organization. It deals with Toyota’s ability to continuously develop new solutions. A kata is a routine or behavior pattern that is deliberately practiced to develop a particular mindset.

What we have missed earlier when studying Toyota is the clear explanation of daily behavior patterns and how they are systematically taught to everyone. By explaining these underlying thinking and behavior routines, the book helps bring to light the context within which Toyota’s lean tools are intended to function. This book highlights how Toyota manages day to day, embedding continuous improvement into and across the organization.

Rother examines the company’s unique leadership routines that created its legendary continuous improvement and adaptation. By providing practical examples, Rother explains how you can develop these routines in your own company. Toyota Kata is an excellent book to help in your quest to achieve business excellence.

Bengt Klefsjö
Luleå University of Technology

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