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Effort Will Bring Academic Rigor and Discipline to the Science of Improvement

SEATTLE - (Dec. 15, 2011) — Virginia Mason Medical Center announced today that it is establishing a new Center for Health Services Research, effective Jan. 1, 2012.

The purpose of the center is to evaluate the effectiveness of Virginia Mason's improvement efforts, including the Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS), and to publish and spread the results through publications targeted toward the academic community, health care leaders, policy makers, business leaders and patients.

VMPS is Virginia Mason's adaptation of the Toyota Production System to improve health care. Since 2001, using the tools of VMPS has resulted in greater safety for patients, less delay in getting care, more timely results and treatment, and more time for patients to spend with their care providers. It has meant less rework and frustration for staff, and greater opportunities and more time to care for patients. Virginia Mason benefits by operating more efficiently, providing higher quality and safer care, at a lower cost.

"Our vision is to be the quality leader and to transform health care," said Gary S. Kaplan, MD, chairman and CEO of Virginia Mason Medical Center. "Such a vision comes with a responsibility to rigorously and openly measure, document and share our successes and failures. The Center for Health Services Research will help us fulfill that responsibility."

Virginia Mason's success in adapting the Toyota Production System has gained broad attention from media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and CBS Evening News. Innovations in improving care, such as Virginia Mason's Marketplace Collaboratives with area employers and insurers to provide better, faster and more affordable care for 10 common ailments, have been published in respected journals, such as Health Affairs.

Craig Blackmore, MD, MPH, will serve as director of the Center for Health Services Research.

"For the last 10 years, Virginia Mason has been conducting pioneering, world-renowned, real-time research in how to improve quality, remove waste, improve efficiency and lower the cost of delivering care," Dr. Blackmore said. "The role of the center will be to collect that data, apply the rigor of science and academic peer review, and publish it so that it can be scrutinized and applied by health care providers around the globe."

Dr. Blackmore likens the center's mission to the work of the Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI). "When our colleagues at BRI make an important discovery in immune disorders, they publish those findings in a scientific way, detailing all of their methods, so it can be scrutinized by their peers and, if credible, used to benefit patients."

The Center for Health Services Research will also support the scholarly and publication efforts of Virginia Mason's education programs that train medical residents, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals.

About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is 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. Virginia Mason operates a network of clinics throughout the Puget Sound area, and Bailey-Boushay House, a skilled-nursing facility and chronic care management program for people with HIV/AIDS. The medical center is affiliated with Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, internationally recognized in autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason is known for applying manufacturing principles to health care to improve quality and patient safety. For more information, visit or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter.

For media inquiries, contact:
John Gillespie
(206) 341-1509 (office)
(206) 402-2822 (mobile)

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