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SEATTLE – (July 31, 2015) – An article written by Virginia Mason Chairman and CEO Gary S. Kaplan, MD, offering recommendations for reducing patients’ wait times at U.S. hospitals has been published online by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The article is based on findings of the recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, titled “Transforming Healthcare Scheduling and Access: Getting to Now.” Dr. Kaplan was chair of the study committee that produced the report. It concludes that structured, engineering-based approaches to scheduling would reduce variability in wait times for health care appointments across the nation.

Delays in access to medical care have negative effects on health outcomes, patient satisfaction, health care utilization and organizational reputation, the committee found. Reducing wait times for mental health services is particularly critical, because the longer a patient waits for such services, the greater the likelihood he or she will miss the appointment. The IOM report suggests health care leaders should look to other business sectors for systems approaches and models of efficiency that can be adapted for health care.  

“Timeliness is increasingly recognized as an important factor in quality of care, and measuring wait times, or the amount of time it takes for a patient to have access to an appointment and see a clinician, has emerged as a key indicator of overall system performance,” Dr. Kaplan states in the JAMA article.

Since 2002, Virginia Mason has used its innovative management methodology, called the Virginia Mason Production System (VMPS), to improve operational efficiency, enhance care quality and patient safety, and control cost. More than 5,000 people from 20 nations have attended VMPS seminars offered by the Virginia Mason Institute in the past seven years. VMPS was inspired by the lean manufacturing and engineering principles of the Toyota Production System.

About Virginia Mason Virginia Mason, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit regional health care system based in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs approximately 6,000 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 480 physicians; regional medical centers throughout the Puget Sound area; and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason is internationally recognized for its breakthrough autoimmune disease research. Using the Virginia Mason Production System management methodology, Virginia Mason is an international leader in applying lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste, lower cost, and improve quality and patient safety. Virginia Mason website:

To learn more about Virginia Mason, visit or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter. To learn how Virginia Mason is transforming health care and to join the conversation, visit our blog at

Media Contact: Gale Robinette Virginia Mason Media Relations (206) 341-1509


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