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Released on June 17, 2011

Saskatchewan health system leaders are continuing to look at innovative ways to improve patient care in the province.

Health Minister Don McMorris and a delegation from Saskatchewan health regions, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and the Health Quality Council will travel to Seattle from June 19 to 23 for a study tour of world class "Lean" health care organizations and the Boeing Company, a North American leader in the use of Lean methodologies.

Lean processes can benefit patients, their families and health care providers by making the health care system more efficient, safer and smarter. Lean empowers people to innovate and eliminate work processes that do not produce value for patients, families, residents, clients and partners. It is a quality improvement approach that originated in the manufacturing sector.

"Through Lean, we are improving patient satisfaction, enhancing staff morale, improving system productivity, and freeing up time for direct patient care and service delivery," McMorris said. "We are fortunate to have this opportunity to learn more about how Lean can contribute to substantial improvements to patient- and family-centred care while making our health care system more efficient."

The delegation will visit the following sites:

  • Virginia Mason Medical Center - A nonprofit comprehensive regional health care system in Seattle that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 440 physicians with a 336-bed acute-care hospital;
  • Seattle Children's Hospital - The Seattle Children's Hospital is known as one of the top Lean hospitals in the United States;
  • Boeing Company - The world's leading aerospace company and the largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft combined. Boeing has a long tradition of aerospace leadership and innovation, including deployment and refinement of Lean methodologies.

The Ministry of Health has also been working closely with regional health authorities (RHAs), and the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency to implement a province-wide co-ordinated approach to Lean. A list of initiative examples is attached.

Information gathered during the Seattle tour will be used to help guide the development of a plan for improved quality health care for Saskatchewan.

For more information, visit


For more information, contact:

Tyler McMurchy
Phone: 306-787-4083
Cell: 306-537-3594

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