Department Description

The Strategic Improvement Office is accountable for driving strategic and value programs within UCSF Health to support a culture of continuous process improvement (CPI), innovation, high value care and a learning health system.

Job Summary

The Improvement Specialist will work with one or more unit-based leadership teams in care delivery settings, including hospital/acute care, critical care and outpatient settings, and will function as part of a team of individuals responsible for the application of Lean to solve organizational problems.

This position’s initial scope of work includes the Mission Bay and Parnassus Emergency Departments, and one to two additional inpatient units. The Improvement Specialist will facilitate improvement work using basic Lean knowledge and skills, and clinical experience to help develop a clear understanding of key processes, business issues and operational challenges facing prioritized departments/units. This includes leading and supporting operational leaders to define concrete problems, identify and track targets, complete gap analyses, develop and test countermeasures using change management principles, identify and track in process measures, and develop and implement a plan for sustainability.

Success will require collaborating with Decision Support Services and Patient Quality and Safety personnel to develop and track pertinent metrics that support performance management, and working in close partnership with the Lean Transformation Office on Value Stream Analysis and Rapid Improvement Events happening in their areas of work. 

The Improvement Specialist will support and coach frontline staff and area leaders in quantitative and qualitative data analysis, including direct observation of processes and workflows to identify and quantify the impact of operational and clinical inefficiencies. External benchmarks should be leveraged where possible to enable UCSF staff and departments to overcome challenges that prevent cost-effective, safe, and reliable service to our patients.

Through their unit-based improvement work, the Improvement Specialist is responsible for knowledge transfer and development of performance improvement capabilities among frontline staff, managers, and organizational leaders. This includes the reinforcement of Lean principles and Lean leader behaviors being implemented by the Lean Transformation Office in their areas of work.

As a respected member of the Strategic Improvement team, the Improvement Specialist must be able to establish positive relationships with Executive Sponsors, Process Owners, frontline staff and other key stakeholders across all disciplines represented at the Medical Center. The Improvement Specialist must demonstrate the ability to effectively manage change in the dynamic UCSF environment, and this individual must be able to establish themselves as a respected and trusted leader of change, building upon a proven track record of achievement in performance improvement. The Improvement Specialist must demonstrate competency in their role as consultant, facilitator, change agent, and project manager as required to sustain results in their assigned areas of focus. 

The individuals in this position will perform all duties in a manner that promotes teamwork and reflects the UCSF mission, vision and values.

Required Qualifications

  • UCSF Health Lean Champion certification within six months of start date
  • Bachelor's degree in related area and / or equivalent experience / training
  • General knowledge of business operations and process improvement activities as typically acquired with one to three years of relevant work experience
  • Subject matter expert in at least one area, or having a strong skill, to bring an advantage to the team; examples of subject matter expertise include (but are not limited to): Behavioral Change & Intervention Design, Process Improvement (esp Lean) or Quality Improvement, Data Management & Analytics, Epic (electronic medical record)
  • Team player with a collaborative style
  • Demonstrates analytical, problem-solving, project planning and implementation skills
  • Skilled in facilitation, consulting and relationship building
  • Strong listener and communicator; ability to facilitate a small group of leaders to gain consensus and reflect it back accurately
  • Possesses effective verbal and written communication skills
  • Demonstrates ability to learn quickly, reason, synthesize and generalize based on information obtained
  • Ability to focus on priorities, strategies, and vision
  • Ability to coach, facilitate, and influence people
  • The flexibility to orient and work at all UCSF Medical Center locations

Preferred Qualifications

  • Five years of team leadership, training experience, project management, and change management
  • Three years clinical experience
  • Master’s degree or combination of education and experience in Healthcare/Healthcare Administration
  • Previous healthcare management experience in hospital or ambulatory settings
  • Lean expertise in healthcare or other relevant setting
  • Knowledge of and experience using Lean tools and concepts, such as: 
    • PDSA
    • A3 thinking
    • Daily Problem Solving at the front line
    • Waste, 5S and Standard Work
  • Understanding of healthcare industry & terminology


  • UCSF Health Lean Champion certification within six months of start date


Last updated by Janet Umenta Aug 8, 2018.

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