New Healthcare Book, 'Beyond Heroes,' Teaches Proven Management System

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ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value shares latest resource for developing lean management systems

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The single most important thing missing in healthcare today is a management system that supports improvement.

The ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value is excited to release Beyond Heroes: A Lean Management System for Healthcare, by lean leader and former senior vice president of ThedaCare Kim Barnas. The book marks the third title released by the Center, an education institute shaping sustainable healthcare change through patient-centered care, transparency of performance (quality and cost), and payment and incentives based upon value and outcomes.

Beyond Heroes is available at and tells the story of how leadership at ThedaCare, a five-hospital system in northeast Wisconsin, developed a different way to manage in light of its continuous improvement culture.

“The single most important thing missing in healthcare today is a management system that supports improvement,” said renowned healthcare leader and Center CEO John Toussaint, MD. “Beyond Heroes gives industry leaders the tools to put one in place.”

The book details the methods used by ThedaCare to identify gaps in its previous way of managing and the experiments it ran to close those gaps. It is designed not only to teach, but also to share stories of triumph and failure. The ThedaCare Business Performance System was designed over several years and is one of the most successful and copied management systems in healthcare, as demonstrated by the book’s examples from four healthcare organizations that have implemented similar systems.

By sharing results and first-hand accounts, Beyond Heroes highlights the successes and challenges in changing the behaviors of leaders, supervisors, and managers. Specifically, Beyond Heroes includes templates and lessons on:
-Team huddles
-Managing to established standards
-Problem solving
-Advisory teams
-Standard work for leaders
-The physician’s role in a business performance system

The book also features forewords by Dr. Toussaint and lean legend Jim Womack. It acknowledges the perseverance and honesty of organizations committed to the work of developing a lean management system.

A comprehensive glossary, index, and appendix provide readers with guidelines to create custom tools for their own organizations and are available for download to those who purchase the book.

“Hospitals have long relied on heroics to save the day—on one brilliant nurse or physician to fix the problem at hand. The result puts safety and quality at risk because people are rowing in opposite directions,” said Dr. Toussaint. “This is the story of an organization breaking that habit.”

The book complements the Center’s broader lean management system resources, including workshops, webinars, white papers and more. The Center is committed to helping leaders learn, share and connect around healthcare value. Our previous titles, On the Mend and Potent Medicine, by Dr. Toussaint, both earned the prestigious Shingo Research Award for their impact on the industry. Beyond Heroes is generating similar excitement.

Beyond Heroes was written and printed in Wisconsin, championing local resources. It is available now at and will be available for Kindle and from additional booksellers June 1, 2014.

“Every healthcare system in the United States should master the ideas in this book and practice them every day. If they did, we would see a revolutionary improvement in medical care outcomes and massive cost reductions.”
—Paul H. O’Neill, 72nd U.S. Treasury Secretary

“Beyond Heroes outlines the leadership system necessary to achieve dramatic improvements in healthcare... This book will help shape the healthcare leaders of tomorrow.”
—Patrick Conway, quality improvement and health policy expert at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


  • By Kim Barnas, former SVP of ThedaCare and faculty member of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value
  • 216 pages
  • $35 (Hardcover), volume discounts available, visit for details
  • To purchase the book and download supporting materials, visit

Kim Barnas is former SVP of ThedaCare and faculty member of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value. An enthusiastic supporter of ThedaCare’s lean initiative from the beginning, Barnas helped lead the lean transformation of the first value streams. As she saw managers struggling to meet the demands of lean improvement projects while still doing their “regular work,” she led the teams that restructured ThedaCare’s leadership systems. Barnas has a Master of Science in healthcare administration and lives in Appleton, Wis.

The ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value is an education institute that believes we must have three essential elements for sustainable change in healthcare: Delivery of care designed around the patient; payment and incentives based upon value and outcomes; and transparency of performance (quality and cost) throughout the healthcare system. Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Appleton, Wis., we are a small not for profit with a big mission to help change the healthcare industry. Learn more at:

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