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ValueU: Disrupting Health Care and Higher Education


It's the $64 million question. Borrowing LEAN manufacturing principles from the auto industry, we've trained and empowered 2,536 of our front-line health workers–arguably the greatest do-gooders around–to do the good, hard work of redesigning health care. They've brainstormed hundreds of cost-cutting, quality improvement projects. But to build on our success and realize value for all patients, we need to get these tools into the hands of our entire workforce: 16,000 staff, faculty and medical trainees. 

At the current rate of training, that’ll take 64 years and $64 million. “We’re using a decidedly un-lean approach to teaching our employees to get lean,” says Chief Medical Quality Officer Robert Pendleton, M.D. “So, we asked ourselves, what do we, as professional educators, know about how people learn? Is there a more efficient, student-centric model for teaching our employees to be more efficient and patient-centric?”

Our idea for creating a ValueU is in its infancy. The first step is to crystalize what we mean by value. As an institution we’ve defined it as quality plus service divided by cost. “But beyond that we need to spell out the tried-and-true tactics for achieving value. What has worked in the past, or what, at minimum, does every employee need to know?” says Chrissy Daniels, M.S., Director of Strategic Initiatives. “In this day and age, it’s not about serving up more information, but serving up the right information.”

It’s also about making that information available on demand. “The old brick-and-mortar model of rote memorization and repetition is not how today’s generation learns. They need to know what they need to know when it’s applicable, or when they need to know it,” Daniels says. “This means teaching to competencies and taking advantage of teachable moments, those times when big ideas strike, and all that’s keeping our people from realizing them are a set of skills and tools.” Because we all learn differently, and we all have a little something to learn from each other, ValueU should be a collaborative space that knits competency-based education together with online delivery methods to make health transformation stick and go viral.

The end goal isn’t factory medicine, but to tap our greatest resource, our employees. “They’re the ones who know how to improve health care, make it more streamlined and patient-centered. We just need to give them the tools and freedom to do it, and get out of the way,” Pendleton said. “If we do this well, ValueU could become a national resource.”

There’s no reason we can’t disrupt health care and education simultaneously––and do it together.