PINEHURST – An Illinois native with a background in performance improvement and health care business operations has been chosen to fill the newly created position of director of Lean Innovations for FirstHealth of the Carolinas.
Gerard Thomas is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. degree in community health. He earned his M.S. degree in health systems management from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and was certified as a Six Sigma Black Belt by the American Society for Quality in 2013.
Thomas comes to FirstHealth following two years as a Lean Sensei coach and trainer with the Carolinas Health Care System in Charlotte. He previously was a performance improvement adviser and Lean administrator with Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem and a business operations analyst with Stanford Health Care in Palo Alto, California.
In his role with FirstHealth, Thomas will focus on processes designed to continuously improve workflow, whether in patient care or technology, while minimizing waste wherever it is found in those processes. He reports to Cindy McNeill-McDonald, FirstHealth’s vice president of Quality.
“Gerard has the experience to take our Lean program to the next level,” says McNeill-McDonald. “He will be vital in assisting us to change our current processes as we migrate to Epic information systems technology, and he will help us become more efficient as we expand into other areas.”
Introduced by engineer Bill Smith of Motorola in 1986, Lean Six Sigma is a set of techniques and tools for process improvement that is now used in many industries. Guiding principles for lean management include defining value from the customer’s standpoint, identifying each step in a business process and eliminating the steps that don’t create value.