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Journal Article


At UPMC, Improving Care Processes to Serve Patients Better and Cut Costs

The Issue

Inefficiencies in the delivery of care—including long wait times and disrupted operating room schedules—lead to low patient-satisfaction rates. Investigating the cause of delays and addressing them by streamlining services can reduce length of stay and improve patient satisfaction.

The Innovation

Building on the concept of patient-centered care, UPMC Health System, a nonprofit health system in Pennsylvania, began providing guidance on process improvement techniques to work groups through the organization. At eight of UPMC Health System’s 20 hospitals, these work groups redesigned care process by viewing all care experiences through the eyes of patients and their families. Staff improved care for patients undergoing elective spine surgery by increasing presurgery discharge planning and patient education, among other initiatives.


Unpublished data show that 37 percent of elective spine surgery patients admitted to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in 2010 were discharged ahead of schedule, saving $117,000. Average length of stay in 2007 decreased by 0.87 days for spine surgery patients compared with 2008. Patient satisfaction scores, as measured by Press Ganey, also increased.

Publication Details



H. Meyer, "At UPMC, Improving Care Processes to Serve Patients Better and Cut Costs," Health Affairs, March 2011 30(3):400–3.