By John Stark
Atul Gawande, a Boston surgeon, suggests that hospital executives could learn a lot from restaurant chains if they want to improve the quality of their product while cutting costs.
Writing in The New Yorker, Gawande compares hospital and emergency room management practices with those at The Cheesecake Factory, a corporate chain restaurant that he and his family enjoy. He contrasts the restaurant’s intense focus on efficiency, customer service and quality with the haphazard practices that still prevail in many segments of the health care industry.
In one telling passage, Gawande reports that when he told a young Cheesecake Factory restaurant manager how the medical system operates, the restaurant guy replied, “You’re scaring me.”
Gawande also reports that corporate chain ownership is becoming more common in the hospital industry, and corporate owners are already trying to shift to the kind of management practices that Cheesecake Factory uses to mass-produce decent plates of fettucini Alfredo.
Corporate ownership and corporate cost-cutting is going to trigger knee-jerk reactions in some people. Try to keep your legs still until you read the article.
I’m sure we would all welcome informed comment from Bellingham and Whatcom County health-care providers.