The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

Brian Joiner Podcast on Management, Sustainability and the Health Care System

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Joe Dager has posted another Business 901 podcast with a leading Deming management authority, this time with Brian Joiner, author of Fourth Generation Management, co-author of the Team Handbook and long time colleague of Dr. Deming. Early in Brian’s career he shared an office with Dr. Deming’s wife; and that led to Brian getting to know Dr. Deming in the 1960s, a relationship Brian maintained for the rest of Dr. Deming’s life. Brian was one of those that taught the Deming 2 day seminars with Dr. Deming.

photo of Brian Joiner

Brian Joiner

In the podcast, Brian discusses his mission after leaving Joiner Associates: the environmental sustainability movement. He founded Sustain Dane (a local organization) in order to work on sustainability issues at a local level.

Joe brought up the concentration of quality management leadership in Madison, Wisconsin and Brian mentioned the impact of George Box (who I am admittedly very biased in favor of: I believe people should read more of George’s work). My father followed George Box to Madison, as did Brian Joiner.

Recently Brian has shifted his focus to the health care system (while maintaining a focus on quality principles and sustainability). “Our health care system is an economic tsunami that is about to overwhelm us if we don’t do something very significant, very soon.” Brian has re-initiated Joiner Associates along with, James Bower and Tim Harrington, to take on the effort to improve the health care system.

“70% of the cost of health care is associated with chronic conditions… it has been proved that you can reduce those costs if you catch the conditions early and treat them well early.” We will save money and people will enjoy a much better quality of life (by treating the conditions that will eventually lead to symptoms, rather than just treating symptoms). Great Health Care: Making it Happen by Tim Harrington discusses this opportunity.

On average it take 17 years for a medical innovation to be implemented broadly. Looking at how to speed the adoption of good ideas is also addressed in Great Health Care.

Health care was one of the Dr. Deming’s 7 deadly diseases of management, and sadly, it is a much bigger problem today than when Dr. Deming identified it as a deadly disease. While good work has been, and continues to be done in health care, the problems we face, require that much more be done to improve the system going forward.

Related: Podcast with Joyce Orsini and Kevin CahillPodcast with John Hunter, Discussing Dr. Deming’s Ideas, The Deming Institute and ToyotaPodcast with Kelly Allan on Dr. Deming and Peter ScholtesPodcast with Clare Crawford-Mason Discussing Dr. Deming’s Ideas on Management


Categorised as: systems thinking


6 Comments

  1. John Dowd says:

    I’m wondering about the figure that 70% of cost of healthcare is for chronic conditions.

    It depends on how one looks at costs. Bundled into this estimate are, for example, salaries and benefits for healthcare employees (pro-rated by patient, I suppose) and administrative overhead costs which are mostly likely parceled out by unit of service.

    So while more preventative care may reduce the patient load on healthcare facilities, it would not necessarily lead to a quick reduction in cost because of the indirect costs involved

  2. […] Brian Joiner Podcast on Management, Sustainability and the Health Care System – Recently Brian has shifted his focus to the health care system (while maintaining a focus on quality principles and sustainability). “Our health care system is an economic tsunami that is about to overwhelm us if we don’t do something very significant, very soon.” […]

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