But there’s no question at all that there are lots of systems where good people get trapped in bad systems, or in systems that malfunction. To improve patient safety, we have to look at the systems and improve those systems.

Over the past 12 years, there are lots of hospitals that have done just that. I have been able to travel across the country and visit a number of those institutions that are really doing quite stunning work in finding ways to re-engineer the patient care system in a way that has backup safety systems in place.

So in February, I was at the Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, and they’re using the Toyota engineering system to really make safety a priority. It is something that the leadership understands and that every health leader in that hospital understands, and they do just what is done on the Toyota factory floor to continue to monitor and watch what’s happening. By applying those lessons, they’ve reduced patient falls by 25 percent and bedsores by 75 percent, and those are just some of the outcomes that have been very successful.

In March, I was in Ohio, where a group of The Consortium of Children’s Hospitals and about a dozen adult hospitals have come together, from urban areas and very rural areas, with the business community and with patient advocates to form a partnership to improve patient care. They are now measuring their successes, and they’ve prevented about 3,600 infections and medical complications for Ohio’s children, and they’ve already saved $3 million, and this effort is just under way. They are determined to measure and be very transparent about what is happening.

I know David Pryor is here today from Ascension Health. Over the last seven years, they’ve reduced preventable deaths by more than 1,500 a year. I’ll be at the Seton Medical Center [part of Ascension Health] in Austin this Friday to again help shine a light on the work that they’re doing.

So every day, those hospitals and many others around the country are proving that safer, better, and more affordable care is indeed possible, because that’s what they’re driving toward.

In the past, there have been real questions about whether the results of some of these great hospitals could be brought to scale. They wondered whether providing high-quality care was like playing in the NBA, limited to only a select few, those exceptional athletes with remarkable ability. So while all kids can play basketball, only a few will ever be drafted by the NBA.

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