Mary Greeley Medical Center Uses Lean as Bridge to Baldrige

Mary Greeley Medical Center capped a 10-year journey in 2019 when the hospital became Iowa’s first-ever organization to receive the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award.

Marty Greeley Medical Center’s 2019 Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award

It happened, in part, because Mary Greeley used Lean techniques to trim waste from hospital activities and create a more efficient, more patient-centered environment.

Karen Kiel Rosser, vice president and quality improvement officer at the Ames-based medical center, said Mary Greeley initially adopted the Baldrige criteria because “we knew we had a way to demonstrate our financial strength (through industry standards such as generally accepted accounting principles), but we didn’t have the same standards to demonstrate our quality.”

In adopting Baldrige, Mary Greeley was chasing the highest possible standard for performance excellence that a U.S. company could pursue. To achieve it, the hospital turned to Lean and Six Sigma. Mary Greeley joined and received training from the Iowa Lean Consortium, beginning a long and deep relationship.

Kiel Rosser, ILC Lean Champion of the year in 2015, said Lean now is an integral part of Mary Greeley’s culture. Over five years, more than $5 million of “hard savings” resulted from “100-Day Workouts” – events the hospital used to find revenue-saving or cost-reducing ideas that could be designed and implemented in 100 days.

Patients benefited, as well. Mary Greeley therapists became 25 percent more efficient when they switched to a patient-centered scheduling approach instead of simply sending therapists (without appointments) to meet patients in their rooms. Baldrige recognized this change as a best practice.

Kiel Rosser said the hospital is “constantly looking for new ways to do things and new techniques outside our industry.”

“That’s the value we get from the ILC,” she said. “There’s always something new that we can learn.”

For more information, contact Tracy Schuster at or 515-715-0164.


A version of this article was published in the Fall 2020 edition of CIRAS News. To read more of that edition or others, please explore elsewhere on our website.