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Saskatchewan to implement Lean methods

REGINA – Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health and the health regions are undertaking a number of Lean quality improvement initiatives to enhance client care in the areas of addictions and mental health.

By using Lean to rethink how people access services, we can provide more meaningful, timely help, Health Minister Don McMorris (pictured) said. The government has already begun strengthening the capacity of communities and health organizations to promote healthy choices and provide support to the many Saskatchewan individuals and families for whom addiction is an ongoing struggle.

The Lean process has proved to be a valuable tool to examine how services are delivered and to identify where improvements can be made. When improvements uncovered by the Lean process are fully implemented, wait times will be reduced, the intake process will be streamlined and more consistent, and better information flow between supporting agencies will cut down on clients having to repeat the same information to different staff.

After reviewing its options for dealing with addictions problems in Saskatchewan, the Ministry of Health has decided to revitalize existing and new addictions services to make them more patient- and family-centred and aligned with mental health efforts, rather than to establish a separate addictions agency.

Although we are not moving forward with an independent addictions agency, the government supports the general direction of the Addictions Advisory Committees recommendations, McMorris said. The ministry believes that many of the committees recommendations can be achieved by the ministry, health regions and other stakeholders working together more effectively.

Our committee felt strongly that there must be transparency, accountability and continuous quality improvement in services for people struggling with addictions and their families, Chair of the former Addictions Advisory Committee Dr. Peter Butt said. I'm encouraged the government has taken our recommendations seriously and is looking at how best to adopt them in a way that is sustainable.

The Addictions Advisory Committee was asked to recommend the role for a new addictions agency. It recommended in November 2010 that services provided by health regions and community-based organizations be strengthened and better integrated with mental health efforts.

The Ministry of Health has increased its investment in addiction treatment facilities, including a recently-opened 45-bed detoxification facility in Regina, six youth stabilization beds at Saskatoon
s Calder Centre and a 14-bed detox facility in Prince Albert. Under construction are an eight-bed family treatment facility in Prince Albert and, in co-operation with Prince Albert Grand Council, a 15-bed youth inpatient treatment centre.

For more information on how Lean processes are being used to make improvements in the Saskatchewan health system, see

Posted April 7, 2011