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Join us in New Orleans!



It’s that time of year again!


This year’s war college is proving to be even better than last year!


With leading sponsors in the healthcare industry (Siemens, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, and more), this conference is set to be a huge benefit for those working in hospital laboratories.


In fact, not only will we be attending, we are one among many of this year’s sponsors! Here’s an excerpt taken from their website with some info on this year’s conference:


Featured at the opening general session on April 30, 2013 is an unprecedented analysis of the existing business model that has sustained independent clinical laboratories over the past three decades. Prepare for a shock… because BIG changes are ahead in 2013.

On the following day, Wednesday, May 1, the attention shifts to how genetic testing and molecular diagnostics are poised to transform clinical practice—and create new opportunities for clinical labs and pathology groups to add value. Yes! Even as the financial foundations of the traditional lab business model erode, nimble labs will transition into value-added providers of information-rich diagnostic tests.

© The Dark Report, Executive War College 2010-2012 ~ All rights reserved.


We are looking forward to networking with top healthcare professionals and hope you know that you could be one of them! Check out our social media pages for updates on our company, events like War College, as well as some great reading material we find on the web that is tailored to the healthcare industry in general. Ultimately we want to be your source for bettering your lab and your bottom line, whether we take you on as a client, or as your informant with the FREE resources we provide via our social media channels.


We hope to see you this year, and we look forward to meeting you!

Leslie’s Lean Book Series: Top Sources for Lean Implementation


I’m beginning a monthly series on my favorite lean books to give you some insight on where I turn to for ideas, lean management techniques and, yes, for my own encouragement.

This month, I’m focusing on my all-time favorite:  Creating a Lean Culture by David Mann.

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Quite simply, I like his theories about implementing lean:

“Why, when is seems so simple, are successful lean implementations so difficult to achieve? The answer is in an overlooked but crucial aspect of lean. It requires an almost completely different approach in day-to-day and hour-to-hour management, compared to anything with which leaders in conventional batch-and queue environments are familiar or comfortable.”

I tell my clients all the time that Lean is easy to understand, but asking people to change is very difficult.

We are wired to avoid pain, yet change is rarely painless. We must work through the uncomfortable parts to realize the remarkable benefits of lean – good things for the employees, like less stressful work, less physically demanding shifts, less mentally fatiguing days.

And so you must LEAD to LEAN.

Mann writes that the first thing we must do it get rid of the “Do Whatever It Takes” approach, which just kicks the can down the road. We must learn the discipline to stop putting out fires and focus on the process:  designing it, implementing it and maintaining it. This is what produces the results.

This is LEADING to LEAN.

I keep my copy, all yellow-highlighted and tagged with Post-it™ flags, within reach, to remind myself that my role is to help you go about making that change.

All the best,


A Leaner Hospital for the New Year


I thought it fitting for our first post of the New Year to be about the direction Healthcare is headed (and has been heading).

When I began working for Leslie, I realized there were plenty of things that make a hospital ‘Lean,’ and plenty that I’d never understand. As director of social media and marketing, there are things I don’t need to know to realize how important her practice really is. In the following paragraphs I want to touch on the subjects that we all understand, trauma. We all know someone who has had to deal with the pitfalls and inefficiencies of our ‘modern’ healthcare system, and it has sparked a change in the way our nation thinks we should provide it. This is a true story about how the quality of care has risen within the guidelines of government and how it also helps the hospital save more money.


Nestled in an article in Time magazine, its first caption explains the article to come, it read: “for five months, I was my parents’ death panel. And where the costly chaos of Medicare failed, a team of salaried doctors and nurses offered a better way.”


The following caption, on the second page, gave us some hindsight: “My parents died serenely, with dignity. When you are a death panel, that is the very best you can hope for.”


Now this isn’t an article on death panels (although that’d be an interesting article); it is an article about the care of the patient. A lot of what we do at Sprick Group is worded in such a way that executives can make a great business decision, in language concerning the hospital’s bottom line. It’s what we do: we save time and money so that hospital labs can thrive. But what isn’t mentioned enough, maybe because it doesn’t ‘sell,’ is that our services improve care. The fact is that when all the inefficiencies are solved, and when the employees have a new outlook and understanding of how they should work; it makes the lab run better. When the lab runs better, doctors get results faster, and ultimately the patient is happier and healthier.


The article in Time magazine represents the patient’s view of the hospital; This hospital in particular was part of the Geisinger system, a system of professionals who we at Sprick Group have worked with in the past. Just by comparing our companies, you’ll soon realize our philosophies regarding healthcare are very similar. One doctor from the article stated, “Our core belief is that about 40% of what doctors and hospitals do is wasteful.” Here at Sprick Group, we are in the business of teaching you better methods of managing hospital lab; transforming your hospital lab relies not just on finding and eliminating waste, but also changing the habits and culture of the staff in the lab.


Remember, ultimately the things that improve your hospital improve the care of your patients. The Geisinger system provides incentives similar to what the new government incentives offer (e.g. reducing waste and better doctor patient communication, etc.).


“It takes more time and effort to sit down and have a discussion with the patient rather than just ordering the duplicative X-ray…But the time spent on the discreet application of candor saves money and develops a deeper level of patient trust and satisfaction.”


What Geisinger is should be stated as a leader in healthcare systems. It provides a higher level of care all the way down to doctor/patient communication. What we do at Sprick Group is more focused, which is why we have worked with Geisinger in the past and not competed against them. Our narrow focus is your hospital lab. With Lean Six Sigma workshops that educate the staff on leaner techniques, we prepare them for the dynamic changes they will be facing when their work environment begins its reorganization. A generic description of the Geisinger/Sprick Group philosophy is to save money and provide better care and a better work environment. At Sprick Group, we transform your lab and bring it up to date with the constant changes in this important time for healthcare.


“Much of the savings projected for the Affordable Care Act—ObamaCare—would come from a broader application of his model.”

            It seems that the changes in healthcare will be, for the most part, a good thing. I’m saying specifically that it will at least make hospitals pay closer attention to how things have been running in their organizations, and further, pay closer attention to the healthcare systems in this country that set the standard (i.e. Geisinger).


“In the end, changing the way healthcare is provided rather than the way it is sold may be the most efficient way to generate savings.”


I began the article with the words ‘death panel’ to reel you in, but to also put a human touch on our services here at Sprick Group. The real life #truestory here lies in the fact that our company can help you change. Then your hospital can deliver better care to your patients, and your employees can work better and happier – just like the Geisinger model. Feel free to check out our testimonials, contact Leslie if you want more information, or simply come back to our blog every now and then. Either way you choose it, we’re here to help. Please comment on this blog, we accept questions as well as critiques!


 –Happy New Year


More from the article:


On the Geisinger System:


This is such a terrific model…It costs less and gives better results. In a Darwinian business system, you have to wonder why it doesn’t spread. Only about 335 of Americans get their healthcare through systems like Geisinger. But the model is becoming more popular, encouraged by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which has run hundreds of pilot projects over the past six years. If you’re a group practice that joins one of the CMS pilots and prove you can improve service while cutting Medicare costs, you get to keep a portion of the savings.


To Watch Joe Klein Talk About his Story, Click Here.

Info Regarding Leslie's Upcoming Workshop!


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In a few weeks, Leslie will be presenting a workshop titled "Lean for Lab Leaders: Achieving Mastery with Concepts, Implementation, and Outcomes." This workshop has been the highest rated session at LQC since its inception. Read more and find out why! 

On November 8th, at the 6th annual Lab Quality Confab and Process Improvement Institute, Leslie will present a unique workshop that affects how you visualize better lab practices by thinking about process improvement and Lean Six Sigma processes in a fun way (there's Legos!).

To those attending this lecture: Leslie will navigate you through Lean patterns and processes in order to encourage you to SEE past the sometimes s c a r y analytics of Lean Six Sigma theories; the lesson in point will be to help you visualize a better path forward (which is reflected in our company motto - better results for hospital labs).

No one wants to be intimidated into changing their habits, but everyone wants to develop better ones; Leslie's workshop shows you how simple the path to both of these realities really is. 


As the webmaster and director of media and marketing, I have no real background in healthcare - I'm just here to help you better understand Leslie and the quality of her services. With that said, and even with my lack of knowledge about Lean Six Sigma theories and the intricacies of a hospital laboratory, I must tell you that the first time I attended one of these workshops, I left with a tangible conceptual understanding of how lean processes work, and why they are important.

(She spoke of how this process drastically effected all those batch time thingy's and how well couriers and stock counts make or break the health of process management. I'm not claiming to be able to recant it - but me being me, after watching her work for a day, I felt like I should write a congressman about government funding for services such as Leslie's.)

To get to my point: waste is waste, and inefficiencies are always a problem to be dealt with. We can all equally understand this, for more reasons than just fiscal or environmental. But, in my opinion, Lean Six Sigma implementation in Hospitals improves the one thing that matters most of all - our humanity. When applied properly, Lean Six Sigma practices improve employee satisfaction, and not to forget, it also improves the overall quality of care for their patients.

If you can, please come join us, you'd be surprised how much you can learn with Leslie, Legos, and 'Larry the Lab Bot' in just a few hours...


Want to attend this conference but don't know how? Visit the link above for more info or register here!

New Blog Series: Letters from Leslie.


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A few months ago I realized something - this year marks my company's 10 year anniversary.  After recently acquiring sole ownership of the company, and in lieu of a decade of experience, I decided that in the spirit of change, I should have a new title and focus. My focus would remain similar to before, but the focus was finding a continuous evolution towards my expertise - getting better results for hospital labs. I also felt the company deserved a new name.  Now, after much thought and reflection into each decision that has led to the point of me writing this letter, I can honestly say, I am looking forward to the future.

Several years ago, my son's school changed headmasters; it marked the beginning of a new era for their school. Their motto, their direction and focus – everything was on a course for evolution for the better. I liken their situation to my company at the present moment.

One of the first things the new headmaster did was to develop a new motto for the school.  He said he wanted a motto that was simple, yet complex.  Clear, yet adaptable.  Easy to remember.  And he found it in the two words ‘Go Beyond.’

Now I felt I could use this opportunity to have a chance at positive change in my company, an evolution in our value and focus. I focused on the question, "What is Sprick Group's purpose?" For me, the bottom line is to help laboratories get better.  It's the key ingredient that led me to a career in laboratory medicine and it is still my purpose. It’s why I get paid – literally. I focus on how to better my clients situation as a business: how to better their bottom line, all the way to the trickling down effects of bettering the services they provide their clients.

Our new motto is Better Results for Labs. I am committed to helping you achieve better results:  to exceed expectations, to strive for superior outcomes, to reach for new heights, and, yes, to stretch beyond the comfort zone.

I'm excited for the next ten years and the increased potential of continuing to help my clients achieve better results for their labs. That's always been my goal: and now, more than ever, an increasing number of healthcare incentives are changing the way that hospitals operate - that's where I will focus the efforts of my company. I’m using this ten year anniversary to better my focus of making the best out of your lab, just as I have been doing all these years – only now we do it better. Find out how: for more info, continue to read our blogs, or visit our Facebook page - you can even find us on twitter...


“I hope the new motto inspires and encourages you, too. No matter where you are, I believe you can always get better.”


All my best,

Leslie Sprick (CEO)


P.S. Follow me on Twitter @lsprick and @sprickgroup...

Sustaining Lean Six Sigma Beyond the Honeymoon Phase


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I sometimes say that starting a lean journey is like starting a marriage.  In the first few months, the honeymoon phase, we are super-motivated and very disciplined about keeping the fire alive, whether it is lean or our new marriage.  We have that "lovin' feeling."  But then, reality sets in and the going gets a little tougher.  

 Perhaps you have completed a 5S project, but now you realize it is time to take a deeper dive into your operations.  Perhaps you are starting to realize how hard it is to get people to let go of old habits and learn new ones.  I remind my clients that, just as in a marriage, it is important to push through challenges - to rekindle that "lovin' feeling."

Try to find something to anchor you back to those early, happy feelings:  before and after photos of 5S, memories of lean team experiences or pictures of freshly organized cabinets.  I hope they remind you how far you have come and help motivate you to push on towards more good feelings.

Leslie Sprick

I look forward to your comments.

Leslie Sprick

Lean Six Sigma: Improving Jet Way Flow with Smaller Batch Sizes

I have been thinking about Lean for six years now:  reading, learning myself, then teaching, and facilitating the adoption of Lean methodologies in labs across the country.  I think so much about Lean that I see waste everywhere I go; I see opportunities to create flow and fix bottlenecks, even in my everyday life.

For example, I get so frustrated with the boarding process that the airlines use, including Southwest.  On most flights, there is a pre-boarding ritual that entails queuing travelers up at the gate area near the entrance to the jet way.  It doesn't bother me that customers are lining themselves up for the cattle call.  If they want to stand there waiting for the boarding process to begin, that's their call.

What bothers me is that the airlines can't seem to figure out how to implement small batch sizes of travelers to improve flow and board the plane in the fastest way.  We all know the drill. The gate agents call first for seniors and passengers traveling with small children.  Next, the agent calls for first class travelers and then passengers by zones.  Passengers feed into the jet way as quickly as possible, but there is no consideration given to the fact that halfway into the jet way, the line to the plane stops everyone cold.  In the summer, travelers may stand for 15-20 minutes in the heat on the jet way, waiting to board, having left the comfort of the terminal and often carrying baggage and other items.

As I'm waiting in these lines, I think about how to improve the flow so the agents can get the plane boarded and pushed back from the gate on time.  I don't think it would be difficult to set up a system where passengers were sent down the jet way at a pace that equaled how quickly they settled into their seats.  I'd love to see an airline try this so their customers wouldn't have to cue up in the transport tubes, i.e. jet ways and board like a cattle call.

I always counsel my clients that working with smaller batch sizes improves flow.  This is a key component of Lean, and I never tire of seeing this concept hit home in our Lean Boot Camps.

Leslie Sprick  

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