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Albany Med Today

Health Care Reform Demands Greater Efficiency and Lower Costs


Albany Med has launched two complementary initiatives involving staff in every department and at all levels to find ways to make the Medical Center more cost effective and efficient while maintaining the highest levels of quality and care.

One effort, Albany Med Saves, works to implement employee cost-saving suggestions on improvements for purchasing or other operations.

The other — Lean CREW (Core Resources to Eliminate Waste) — provides training and engages staff in identification of inefficiencies in processes, and improvements to ensure the best use of time and resources.

“These two initiatives working together are integral to Albany Med’s ongoing efforts to deliver better services in a more cost-efficient manner,” Albany Med President Jim Barba said. “And they are producing positive results.”

Training in Lean, an approach which originated in the manufacturing sector but has been adopted by hospitals and other types of facilities, has been provided to more than 600 members of Albany Med’s workforce through 2013. “White Belts” are provided to those who receive significant training and mentorship.

“These leaders will use their Lean thinking skills and experience to address Albany Med challenges and opportunities for many years to come,” said Donald Wiesenforth, assistant director of innovation. Albany Med’s Center for Innovation is overseeing the Medical Center’s Lean initiative.

Albany Med Saves is a call-to-action, encouraging employees to identify savings opportunities. Building on the success of $15.1 million in employee-identified savings over the past four years, Albany Med Saves has evolved into a continuous request for input from employees.

“Employees are on the front lines every day providing vital contributions to Albany Med’s missions of patient care, education and research, and they have the best view of how supplies are used,” said Bernadette Pedlow, senior vice president and hospital chief operating officer.

Recently, employees from purchasing and nursing submitted an idea to purchase beds for patients with special needs rather than to rent them. The suggestion was reviewed by an interdepartmental task force and has resulted in savings of nearly $300,000 this year alone, with more to come.

Ideas can be submitted by visiting Albany Med Saves via the Intranet, or emailing vat@mail.amc.edu. All participants will be eligible for a random drawing for gift cards from Dunkin’ Donuts or Choices Café.

Those interested in learning more about the Lean CREW can email wiesend@mail.amc.edu.