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Clinical Operations Excellence

We help healthcare providers transform their clinical operations to improve quality and reduce costs, taking a value-based approach and engaging and inspiring hospital staff.

Healthcare providers are devoting more management focus to clinical operations improvements in order to boost productivity and sustain margins. In particular, our clients have found that there are significant operating dollars tied up in unintended clinical variability.

Whether variability is in patient outcomes, length of stay, workforce productivity, clinical supply utilization, or clinician satisfaction and retention, we help our clients engage frontline staff—physicians and nurses—to lead the effort to address the causes of variability and make critical changes.

Demands from stakeholders are also focusing healthcare providers on clinical excellence, with patients paying more attention to healthcare quality metrics and payors offering incentives and penalties tied to clinical performance. We help our clients improve both the quality and efficiency of their operational efforts.

What we do

McKinsey has worked with many of the largest private and public health systems in the world on frontline-driven clinical operations improvements. We help build internal capabilities to ensure the impact endures long after the initial project concludes. Our consultants are often former clinicians themselves, and they leave our clients with a strong institutional foundation on which to build future operational improvements. Our approach offers four specific benefits:

A pragmatic approach to value

We take an unrelenting focus on value in designing transformation programs. We help clients drive quickly toward pragmatic demonstrations of value, with rapid implementation, real-time adjustments, and robust performance tracking. Our clients typically see margin improvements of 3-5 percent over 12-18 months and 3-10 times return on investment by focusing on throughput, quality, supply utilization, and nursing.

Focus on sustainability from the start

In order to succeed, clinical operations transformations need to address from the beginning short-term performance and longer-term mindset and behavior challenges. While every transformation project reflects the client's culture and starting point, we focus on three elements of sustainability in all efforts:

  • Frontline ownership, rooted in capability building. Frontline staff lead huddles, redesign processes, and roll out solutions. Our consultants mainly act as facilitators and coaches. Mentoring, formal training programs, and on-the-job skill building leave staff engaged, solution-oriented, and ready to lead improvements beyond the scope of the project. At one large private US hospital system, we helped build deep capabilities in more than 1,000 employees over 2 years through training on hard and soft skills, weekly team meetings, and daily one-on-one coaching and feedback.

  • Leadership for change. We work directly with frontline and administrative leaders to build their own capabilities in coaching and modeling the mindsets that will ensure successful and lasting transformational change.

  • Performance management. We help clients design and construct daily performance dashboards to share quality, efficiency, financial, and satisfaction outcomes, ensuring a continued focus on what matters. These dashboards are tools for frontline staff and managers alike, making performance management a part of the institutional culture.

Clinicians speaking to clinicians

We structure our teams so that consultants with clinical backgrounds work directly with client clinicians. This helps establish real credibility in the clinical operations setting. Across the globe, our consulting staff includes more than 160 physicians and nurses, 250 healthcare PhDs, and 100 hospital operations experts.

Alignment with the strategic vision

By engaging and aligning individuals from the hospital unit to the board room our operations projects are an extension of our clients' overall strategic vision.


Impact stories

Transforming a national healthcare system

Support for a Middle Eastern country transformed the healthcare system and extended healthcare coverage to all citizens.

Building a stronger health workforce

Making better use of facilities and resources while targeting new investments produces twice the number of trained health workers at a lower cost.

New approach to payor performance saves lives and cuts costs

Redesigned services are improving outcomes for a major city health system.



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